The ‘K’ (if the band’s former, fuller name is anything to go by) stands for ‘klezmer’, and this vital source of jazz (courtesy of the port of Odessa, and manifest in the playing of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, among others) is the default setting of Stewart Curtis‘s music.
The album’s opener, ‘The Last Macaroon’ (with its Passover inspiration), indeed, is quintessential klezmer, complete with rousing accelerando climax; thereafter, however, grooves, rhythms and flavours from a multitude of different musical traditions, from reggae to latin, and from baroque to jazz funk, are allowed to jostle promiscuously together, and Curtis rings the changes between various saxes, flute and recorder.
The album’s closer, ‘The Dirty Bagels’, even nods towards New Orleans, with its second-line shuffle rhythm and solid tuba whump from Paul Tkachenko. Curtis shines (especially on his trademark instrument, clarinet) throughout a lively, varied programme (mostly written by him), but there are also telling contributions from his regular band: bassist Brad Lang, pianist Rob Terry and drummer Hans Ferrao, plus a number of guests including powerful trumpeter Quentin Collins.
Unpretentious, musicianly, serious fun.
The Stewart Curtis K-Groove website has details of forthcoming gigs – for January 2003