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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

George Cartwright - three recent recordings

By Gary Chapin

George Cartwright’s Curlew was a bellwether for me in my foundling days, opening my ears in so many ways it’s hard to imagine how I would hear the world if I hadn’t encountered them. If nothing else, I owe Cartwright a lot for introducing me (sonically) to Tom Cora, the late, great cellist.

Three recordings recently crossed my transom, and they are all worth your time and consideration.

George Cartwright and Bruce Golden - Dilate (sr 2024)

Dilate is a duo recording of George Cartwright, ostensibly a saxophonist but on this record so much more, and Bruce Golden, Curlew drummer but on this record … you get the idea. With characteristic drollness, Cartwright is credited with the “licked sounds” and Golden with the “nailed sounds.” I don’t find the question of “who did what” all that compelling for music like this. Just like when the AEC play their little instruments, I don’t really care if it’s Mitchell or Jarman banging on the bicycle frame. I just let it happen to me.

This is an abstract and wild set, with much electronics and concrete going on. It has the humor and storytelling I associate with Cartwright, and the intrigue. As we move through sections, I am driven forward thinking, “I wonder how this is going to turn out.” Some overdubbing, a lot of production tweaking the envelope in a theatrical way. A great record.

George Cartwright’s GloryLand PonyCat - Black Ants Crawling (Mahakala 2024)

GloryLand PonyCat is the name of the trio, with Cartwright’s tenor (and alto, it says, but I hear almost entirely tenor), Alden Ikeda, drums, and Adam Linz, bass. Conceptually, this is a much easier record to grasp than Dilate. It’s a sax trio from the avant jazz world, a live 2003 recording from the Clown Lounge in St. Paul, originally released on Innova. Now reissued on Mahakala.

Calling it conceptually graspable is not a knock on the record. Sometimes you want to be clever, sometimes clever is the wrong thing to be and the right thing to do is just play some amazing music for an hour, and that’s what the trio does here. Much of the record is in clear post-bop territory, but there’s a lot of drift. Linz and Ikeda are excellent both as support for Cartwright and as musical groundswells in their own right. All three push their instruments to their limits, with one track, “God Has Smiled On Me,” evoking Albert Ayler in the best way.

George Cartwright - Ghostly Bee (Mahakala, 2023)

This one is from a bit further back, but since we’re talking about Cartwright, I couldn’t help but bring it up. Another reissue of an Innova disc from 2005 — this reissue series is a real service to our community. We’ve got a quintet with Cartwright, Golden, and Linz, joined by Chris Parker on keyboards, and Dave Williams on guitar.

And if you stood up and cheered when you read Davey Williams name, there, I wouldn’t blame you. I was not not surprised that Williams (long time Curlew doyen) infused this disc with his wonderfulness, but I was pleasantly revelated. Like Cartwright and Tom Cora, Williams sound is so unique, rich, and vulgar—it’s a gift.

Maybe it’s another one of those age things. I listen to musicians I love and think, “Has he ALWAYS been this amazing?” Maybe it’s just gratitude.

Ghostly Bee comprises two three part suites, that each have their own syntax and storylines, but those familiar with Cartwright’s work will recognize the sweet spot he’s in.


George Cartwright said...

Thanks, Gary,


George Cartwright said...

Thanks, Gary


George Cartwright said...

Bruce Golden said this:

"I don't know Gary Chapin, but I bet I'd like him. He describes himself as "Poet. Humorist. Storyteller. MuddyUm editor. I write. I have always written. I play accordion. I have an extraordinary ability to be fascinated by things."
He writes about things he loves: humor (@therealmuddyum), education (@educatingforgood), and music (@freejazzblog). I love all those things a lot, too.
He writes here about some of George Cartwright's releases and re-releases, on two of which I was involved. And the importance of Davey Williams.
See? I bet you're starting to like Gary Chapin, too.
Thanks, Gary. You made my day. Stay fascinated."

Anonymous said...

Thank you, George and Bruce. You have made MY day.