Review: Stewart Curtis' Klezmer Groove - Too Loud For Dinner
Too Loud For Dinner
|Artist:||Stewart Curtis' Klezmer Groove (aka Stewart Curtis' K-Groove)|
|Album:||Too Loud For Dinner|
|Date of Release:||1995|
|Country of Release:||UK|
2) World | Jewish
|Sub-Genre/s:||1) Contemporary, World Jazz
2) Contemporary, Klezmer, World Fusion
|Date of Review:||2003/12/17|
Too Loud For Dinner - Klez Grooves That Swing!
Released in 1995 and distributed by Grapevine Distribution via Polygram, Stewart Curtis' Klezmer Groove's (since better known as Stewart Curtis' K-Groove) debut album Too Loud For Dinner has only come to my attention in recent months. This is highly regrettable, as this album ought to have been in my collection years ago! As for the reason why, read on.
Stewart Curtis' Klezmer Groove, or K-Groove, features an incredibly strong frontline in Curtis and trumpeter/flugelhorn player Paul Jayasinha, backed by an equally superb rhythm section consisting of Mike Eaves on guitars, Rob Terry on piano and keyboards, Brad Lang on electric basses, and Hans Ferrao on drums and percussion. Stewart Curtis himself, who nowadays also features with Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers, is a multi-woodwind ace in the classic mould of Yusef Lateef, equally strong on clarinet, saxes, flute, piccolo, and recorder. On the present album, his chosen axes are clarinet, tenor, flute and piccolo; additionally, he reveals himself to be an outstanding arranger.
Too Loud For Dinner presents an almost mind-blowing fusion of klezmer and jazz, in the very finest tradition of world jazz. Where Lateef took his inspiration principally from Arabic music, Curtis takes his principally from klezmer, the traditional Eastern European Jewish instrumental music which itself has strong links with Turkish and Arabic music. Parallels with Gilad Atzmon also seem hard to avoid, both Atzmon and Stewart Curtis being world class multi-woodwind virtuosos of the very highest caliber, both being some of the strongest, most inventive improvisers of their generation, and both successfully, organically fusing elements of traditional Jewish and Middle Eastern music into true world jazz. But that's about as far as comparisons can go with two such highly individualistic and original artists as Atzmon and Curtis. On Too Loud For Dinner, Stewart Curtis principally takes a load of traditional klezmer material (plus a Cole Porter standard) and gives it a thorough K-Groove treatment that emphasizes strong grooves with a highly sophisticated yet natural swing. The traditional material is also given often very apt contemporary titles, sometimes indicative of some of the other musical styles being also explored, as in Reggae Frailach or Havana Hip Hop. Funk and Afro-Latin elements are also to be found in this imaginative blend. Add to all this that even here Stewart Curtis' K-Groove is already one of the tightest bands around, and you get one heck of a debut album that still stands up as well as ever some nine years on and that Curtis and his band can justly be proud of.
Right from the opener of Too Loud For Dinner, the appropriately titled Reggae Frailach, you know you're being treated to something rather special, so striking is the interplay between frontmen Curtis (here on clarinet) and Jayasinha. The latter also clearly reveals himself throughout this outstanding album as one of the finest trumpeters and flugelhorn players on the contemporary scene. The subtle reggae beat of Reggae Freilach is a real eye-opener. The two forms are a natural combination, joyous, exuberant. Lipstick On Your Chollah features a beautifully subtle muted trumpet from guest musician Chris Batchelor, and Stewart Curtis' sensuous flute that clearly shows the influence of Yusef Lateef and is pure joy. Fine soloing by the other band members is also given ample space. A lyrical guitar and synth strings on Im'Nin'Alu build up to a sublime trumpet groove and then an extended piano solo, soon leading to a series of laid back exchanges between Paul Jayasinha's trumpet and Stewart Curtis' tenor which is sometimes reminiscent of Dexter "L.T.D." Gordon. Curtis' lyrical tenor again features on Ode To A Morris Minor Van. And again on What Is This Thing Called Love, where Curtis sometimes reminds of "The G-Man" Grover Washington Jr. This is probably the most individual interpretation yet of this Cole Porter standard, and the subtle K-Groove treatment works like magic. Havana Hip Hop combines a klezmer Habanera with touches of Hip Hop and funk in an almost dream-like weave, with Stewart Curtis' eloquent clarinet trading solos with Paul Jayasinha's flugelhorn, their dialogue sometimes reminiscent of the Indian jugalbandi form. On Bashana Haba Nah, Curtis plays some of the grooviest and most sensuous piccolo to be heard anywhere. The changing tempi of Dance Of The Satmars leave you breathless, as does here in particular Jayasinha's outstanding, at times Tijuana-like soloing. Groovin' Back To Stoke Newington could be described as Chassidic nigunim on steroids in a funk setting, with Curtis' clarinet coming straight out of klezmer clarinet heaven and some outstanding guitar from Mike Eaves. The title track, Too Loud For Dinner, opens with some of Rob Terry's finest piano on this album and features Stewart Curtis once again on a tightly controlled tenor. Tradition is yet another irresistible groove. The closer, Hampton Court Frailach, sees Stewart Curtis again bringing his prowess as a klezmer clarinetist to bear, and the jolly, up-beat frailach rounds off this superlative album perfectly.
A note must be made of the liner, which is quite exceptional in featuring some excellent photography, both artistically and technically, by Guy Sargent with Mike Bullard. Sadly, good photography on liners seems to be a somewhat rare, if not dyeing beast. Admittedly, many if not most bands or individual musicians often have to self-finance recording projects, and often the budget simply will not stretch to using the services of a professional photographer, nor will it always be easy to find a photographer "in tune" with the artist/s and develop a creative working relationship. However, where all else fails, it would often be preferable to stick to some simple graphic design rather than using sub-standard photography that ultimately lets the overall product down. Fortunately, no need for any worries on that score for Stewart Curtis' K-Groove's Too Loud For Dinner. The photography is a delight and complements the album perfectly.
Too Loud For Dinner should be considered essential in any jazz collection, as well as in any contemporary klezmer or general world music collection. Stewart Curtis' K-Groove are one of the finest bands on the contemporary scene, and one that I'm sure we'll hear a whole lot more of.
1. Reggae Frailach (Trad. arr. Curtis) - 5:16
Stewart Curtis - clarinet, tenor sax, flute, piccolo
Paul Jayasinha - trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion (all tracks except 2, 5, 9)
Mike Eaves - guitars (all tracks except 6, 10, 11, 12)
Rob Terry - keyboards, piano
Brad Lang - electric basses
Hans Ferrao - drums, percussion
Chris Batchelor - trumpet (tracks 2, 6, 7, 9)
Paul Gamblin - guitar (tracks 6, 7, 10, 11, 12)
Too Loud For Dinner can be purchased:
Direct from the artist
From Jewish Music Distribution JMD UK
From Hatikvah Music International (US)
All rights reserved.