I Can't Hear U When U Shout
A new album from Stewart Curtis and his K-Groove has been long overdue, and at long last Stewart Curtis' K-Groove's I Can't Hear U When U Shout was released this August on 33 Records. A few personnel changes have taken place since the last album, but the core of Curtis himself, on C and Bb clarinets, alto and tenor sax, descant recorder and flute, Rob Terry on piano, Brad Lang on electric and string bass, Hans Ferrao on drums, and Eran Kendler on guitar is still there. They are augmented by Ronen Kozokaro - who also is Curtis' band mate in Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers - here on darbuka, congas and frame drum, Mark Ridout, guitar, Quentin Collins on trumpet and flugelhorn, Dave Land on trumpet, Koby Israelite on accordion, Piotr Jordan on violin and Paul Tkachenko on sousaphone and tuba.
Curtis shows off his prodigious woodwind chops to great effect as one would expect, and he remains one of the most versatile woodwind players on the British scene with a beautiful voice on each of his instruments. The ten tracks on I Can't Hear U When U Shout include six Curtis originals, which not only continue to show him a very gifted composer but also prove themselves superior to the traditional material.
K-Groove again proves an aptly chosen name, the emphasis on I Can't Hear U When U Shout is very firmly on superb, finely crafted grooves that are eminently danceable. And although this is a very consistent album, somehow on the whole it is the latin-informed grooves such as The Cuban Cucumber and Thomas The Tango Engine that seem to work the best. Even some of the klezmer-based material shows very effective latin-inflected grooves. However, it would be very hard indeed to pick any particular favourite track on this excellent album.
Full of wit and charm, I Can't Hear U When U Shout is a highly compelling album full of memorable tunes and great grooves. Curtis' formula of blending klezmer and latin grooves in a jazz context still works as superbly as ever. All the same, as excellent and as highly enjoyable as this album is without question, one can't help wishing that Stewart Curtis would stretch himself more, much more, as would be befitting to his undoubted talents and chops. Curtis is capable of so much more, he is a superb improviser and could and should be one of the leading jazzmen in the UK today.
All that said, I Can't Hear U When U Shout is nonetheless a very fine album in its own right and Curtis' finest to date. Indeed, it's a joy and you'll probably find yourself playing it over and over, it really is quite irresistable. These fabulous grooves really swing superbly.
Stewart Curtis' K-Groove's I Can't Hear U When U Shout is undoubtedly one of the finest world jazz albums of this year and therefore essential in any good world jazz collection. It likewise must be considered essential in any good contemporary klezmer/Jewish music collection. However, regardless of any "genre" affiliation, this is an unmissable album that belongs into any good music-lover's collection.
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