Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

299

George Cartwright: The Memphis Years

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Saxophonist/composer George Cartwright’s musical heritage or persona may represent somewhat of an anomaly. Born and reared in blues-orientated Mississippi, Cartwright went on to study with the likes of notable modern jazz icons such as, Anthony Braxton, Oliver Lake, Wadada Leo Smith and others while subsequently reeking havoc on the New York Downtown scene by forming the jazz/prog-rock/improvising band, “Curlew”. During the late 70’s, early 80’s Cartwright entrenched himself among New York City’s “downtown movement” rank and file while demonstrating his gifts as a sharp soloist and prolific composer coupled with a keen penchant for assimilating disparate musical elements. With his second solo recording, The Memphis Years Cartwright furthers that notion as he draws upon his Southern roots to compile a special blend of “Memphis-Horns” style R&B along with forward thinking rock, funk and jazz improvisation. On this recording, Cartwright garners support from longtime collaborators, lyricist Paul Haines, and vocalist Amy Denio as the overall results prove to be curiously stimulating and a bit abstract yet altogether foot-stomping and gregariously festive!

The diverse mix commences with Amy Denio’s compelling vocals on the piece titled, “Surprise, Surprise” followed by punchy choruses from the horn section as the music contains grassroots rock and soul underpinnings thanks to the aggregate of seasoned “Memphis” session musicians. Yet, the quirky vibe sets the pace for a series of compositions that meld – hot Southern R&B with a light-hearted or slightly slanted New York City “downtown” attitude. The ever-resourceful Cartwright continues with his variations of standard funk-jazz-rock fare on the piece titled, “The Please Fasten Your Seatbelt Sign” featuring Amy Denio’s sultry vocals which nicely contrast some of the hard-edged ensemble work capped off by Jim Spake’s blistering soprano sax solo. Intriguing and to some degree, far-reaching concepts come to fruition once again on compositions such as the 10-minute, “Coffee & Pie” complete with rock solid rhythmic structures and a free-flight tenor sax solo by Lawrence Miller as the Blues goes head to head with modern jazz tendencies. On “Coffee & Pie”, the band sound as though they’re performing at a late night Blues venue while frequently deviating from the straight and narrow via huge hard hitting and guiltless block chords from pianist Chris Parker, divergent choruses from the horns along with Cartwright’s gritty and angular phrasing. The hodgepodge of serpentine arrangements, bold tenacity and decisive soloing impart a distinctive edge or more importantly a refreshingly entertaining view of traditional grooves intermingled with newfangled propositions.

Other highlights are Cartwright’s piercing tenor sax solo on his otherworldly and dream-laden piece titled, “Clumsy”. Chris Parker’s wonderfully inventive gospel tinged piano performance on “In Serious Veins” and the 11-minute opus dedicated to the late poet, beat writer Allen Ginsburg, “Zero Street” which progresses as a multi-part suite featuring dark, haunting choruses that transcend into thoughtful melodies. Here, baritone saxophonist Jim Spake anchors the horn section via his deep, penetrating lines that counter the thriving momentum yet also compliment Amy Denio’s rich, lyric-less vocals; hence, a fitting climax to a very powerful and memorable recording!

George Cartwright succeeds where many others have failed as this ever-inventive and witty composer/musician once again enlivens his personalized view of musical matters, which more than likely culminates from an adventuresome past, yet Cartwright continues to astound! With the The Memphis Years Cartwright cross-pollinates the old with the new in artful fashion, yet it all sounds so genuine and uninhibited but then again, we wouldn’t expect anything less....... * * * * ½


Personnel:

George Cartwright; Alto, Tenor & Soprano Saxophones: Amy Denio; Vocals: Jim Spake; Baritone, Tenor & Soprano Saxophones: Chris Parker; Piano: Doug Garrison; Drums & Percussion: Kevin Sheehan; Acoustic Bass: Tim Goodwin; Acoustic & Electric Bass: Tom Clary; Flugelhorn: Lawrence Miller; Tenor Saxophone: Scott Thompson; Trumpet: Special Guest: Davey Williams; Electric Guitar:

Words by Paul Haines; Music by George Cartwright

Web: www.cuneiformrecords.com

Title: The Memphis Years | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Celebrating William Parker at 65 CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Eternal Life CD/LP/Track Review Eternal Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Two Calls" CD/LP/Track Review Two Calls
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "Live At The Cota Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Cota Jazz Festival
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Astoria Roots Live" CD/LP/Track Review Astoria Roots Live
by James Nadal
Published: May 17, 2017
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Each Edge of the Field" CD/LP/Track Review Each Edge of the Field
by John Eyles
Published: July 4, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!