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Album Review

This studio session, recorded five years after Live in Berlin, is tighter and more controlled than the earlier live date. The replacement of Wayne Horvitz's keyboards and keyboard bass with Ann Rupel's conventional bass guitar has given the group a more solid rhythmic underpinning, but also slightly less of the wacky improvisational sensibility which Horvitz brought to the bandstand. Altogether, the music tends to stay more within its defined "radical funk" borders rather than spilling out recklessly in all directions, and there's more ensemble playing and a more definite structure to most of the twelve selections. That's not to say that Curlew has gone conservative on Bee. Tom Cora's scrabbling, acidic cello is challenging and unconventional as always, and leader and saxophonist Cartwright can still cut loose with squealing runs and mighty blasts of sound. In particular, guitarist Davey Williams comes into his own on this CD, not only showing off a prodigious technique but also a real musical imagination and a command of various instrumental styles, from gutbucket blues to noise jazz.


Formed: 1979

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Curlew were formed in 1979 by George Cartwright, who has served as the group's leader, saxophonist, and main composer for nearly three decades. Although Curlew have been viewed as pioneers of New York City's so-called "downtown scene," Cartwright was born in Mississippi and has consistently brought a roadhouse R&B swagger -- not to mention the influence of early hero Ornette Coleman -- to the band's sound. Throughout the '80s and '90s, Curlew served as something of an incubator and showcase for N.Y.C....
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Bee, Curlew
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