Newfoundland percussionist and composer Curtis Andrews delivers an eclectic, jazzy and rich international musical palette in this debut album. The music, all composed by Andrews, is wonderful melding of jazz, Indian Carnatic music and the music of West Africa. What seems like an unlikely combination of musical cultures comes together under Andrews’ well crafted yet complex compositions and highly charged performances by an impeccable group of musicians. Andrews performs sensitively on drumset and mrdangam throughout. He is joined by a core group of musicians: Patrick Boyle, trumpet; Bill Brennan, keyboards; Chris Harnett, alto saxophone; Brad Jefford, guitar; Josh Ward, bass.
The most unique composition is probably “Tisra Misra”, which the composer calls a “Carnatic Be-Bop.” The straight-ahead jazz improvising and style is well played against a unique formal structure of Indian Carnatic music. Other highlights include Andrews’s mrdangam playing on “Malabar” and “Bhairavi” and the funky “Camel Ride.”
Unlike many such ventures in which elements of world music are combined with other musical styles, Andrews’ music never suffers from an identity crisis. The music and performances are honest and uplifting. Andrews also surrounded himself with excellent musicians who make the rhythmically difficult music sound effortless. Overall, this is an impressive debut.