Smoked Salmon Salsa Bagel
Released in 2000 by 33 Records, Stewart Curtis' K-Groove's Smoked Salmon Salsa is the second album by stellar multi-woodwind wizard Stewart Curtis and his band. Like its predecessor, it is an outstanding example of true world jazz, a subtle, natural fusion of jazz with principally klezmer and Arabic/Mediterranean elements, as well as Afro-Latin.
The line-up of Stewart Curtis' K-Groove has seen only a couple of personnel changes since their debut album. It still features the incredibly strong frontline of Curtis on saxes, clarinet, flute and piccolo and trumpeter/flugelhorn player Paul Jayasinha, while Mike Eaves on guitars has been replaced by Eran Kendler, with Rob Terry on piano and keyboards, Brad Lang on electric basses, and Hans Ferrao on drums as previous, and with the addition of percussionist Satin Singh. Outstanding musicians to a man with impressive collective as well as individual creds, Stewart Curtis' K-Groove are one of the tightest bands around and incredibly flexible and versatile. Curtis nowadays also features in the all-star world jazz supergroup Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers.
Smoked Salmon Salsa presents four Curtis originals that reveal him to be an excellent composer and groove-smith in addition to his prodigious skills as an arranger. The rest of the material is arranged principally by Curtis again, with some arrangements jointly with other band members. In typical K-Groove style, the emphasis is on strong grooves and a sophisticated, natural swing.
A strong, thoroughly consistent album, the opener of Smoked Salmon Salsa, A Pint of Cherry Brandy and a Packet of Crisps Please, is an arrangement of one of the best-known traditional bulgars generally known as Der Heyser Bulgar or simply Der Heyser. And what an arrangement! This is Der Heyser as you've never heard it before. Superb extended improvs especially by Stewart Curtis himself on clarinet and Paul Jayasinha on trumpet are set off by an almost sublimely swinging arrangement of the main theme. South of Croydon is the first of the four Curtis originals. Based around an Arabic melody with a Latin groove, this sees Curtis on his incredibly sensuous piccolo, with the usual strong interplay between him and Jayasinha. A 1970s Nana Mouskouri hit receives a thorough K-Groove treatment on Sunrise, Sunstroke, with Stewart Curtis' lyrical tenor to the fore and some particularly fine guitar from Eran Kendler also. Mo's Hacksaw, an arrangement of the seasonal Ma'oz Tsur Chanukah hymn dating back to the 13th century C.E., again has Curtis on tenor and features outstanding contributions from all band members. Jayasinha's subtle, sensuous muted trumpet and some fine percussion by Ferrao and Singh lead off Sketches of Chrane. This subtle, Gil Evans-like arrangement also features a superb Rob Terry piano part and Curtis' seductive, subdued flute. Essentially a Chassidic 20th century melody and a classic, the effect is highly Hispanic. As a tribute to Miles Davis, this arrangement couldn't possibly be bettered or be more successful. Klap Hands Here Comes Klezmer returns to a dance groove with a touch of funk and has Stewart Curtis switching to clarinet again. Another traditional tune is given the K-Groove treatment on Often Bounce a Cheque, distinguished by some particularly outstanding keyboard work by Rob Terry and fine bass soloing by Brad Lang. The second of the Stewart Curtis originals, Oom-Cha Land, is a superb funky groove with Curtis on tenor again and strong soloing also from guitarist Eran Kendler. The title track, Smoked Salmon Salsa, another strong Curtis original, fuses salsa and klezmer. Rob Terry's piano really excels here as does Jayasinha's trumpet and Curtis' own clarinet. The improvs leave you quite breathless. Chicken Soup With Spots is an arrangement of an Israeli folk dance tune, with Stewart Curtis on alto, often in close harmony with Paul Jayasinha. The last of the four Curtis originals provides the closer, Song For Madeleine, a tender tribute to the leader's late young daughter, to whom the album is dedicated.
Stewart Curtis' K-Groove's Smoked Salmon Salsa is essential in any contemporary world jazz, klezmer, or general world music collection. A stronger, more consistent fusion of klezmer and jazz would be very hard to imagine.
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1. A Pint of Cherry Brandy and a Packet of Crisps Please [An arrangement of Der Heyser Bulgar]
(Trad., arr. Curtis) - 5:54
2. South of Croydon (Curtis) - 6:23
3. Sunrise Sunstroke [An arrangement of Melisse Mou] (Hadjidakis & Gatsos, arr. Curtis) - 5:12
4. Mo's Hacksaw [An arrangement of Ma'oz Tsur] (Mordechai ben Halevy, arr. Curtis) - 6:29
5. Sketches of Chrane [An arrangement of Eyshet Chayil] (Ben Zion Shenker, arr. Curtis/Ferrao) - 4:28
6. Klap Hands Here Comes Klezmer [An arrangement of Patsh Tanz] (Trad., arr. Curtis) - 4:29
7. Often Bounce a Cheque [An arrangement of Oyfn Pripetshik] (M. Warshawsky, arr. Curtis) - 5:18
8. Oom-Cha Land (Curtis) - 5:23
9. Smoked Salmon Salsa (Curtis, arr. Curtis/Jayasinha) - 7:26
10. Chicken Soup With Spots [An arrangement of Zemir Attik] (A. Neeman & M. Kashtan, arr. Curtis) - 4:42
11. Song For Madeleine (Curtis, arr. Curtis/Ferrao/Singh/Jayasinha) - 5:10