LA Jazz Scene Curtis CD Review

L.A. Jazz Scene
May 1999 Issue #141

Released a little over a year ago by local guitarist Curtis, this session recalls instrumental jazz-rock bands that have captured wide audiences from the 1950’s to the present. Somewhat mellow and closer to the blues than your standard electric rock guitarist, Curtis’ sound carries with it echoes of the instrument that almost everyone has wanted to play at one time or another. How can anyone forget The Ventures, The Champs The Tornadoes, The Beatles, and virtuosos such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen? Curtis’ influences include Pink Floyd, the Police and Jeff Beck.

A native of Glendale, the guitarist plays his own songs with some overdubs and the support of a few guests. “Adrenaline Ruin’s the Meat” is pumped up with a driving repetition. It features anxious guitar squeals from the leader and a stirring drum solo from Scott Shepherd. Using multi-tracked acoustic guitars for “That We May Pray Without Words”, Curtis exposes a subtle tango pattern, while “Peter Pan Syndrome” ties electronic whiz-bang effects with nursery rhymes.

The two vocal numbers, “I’m Not Going Back Again” and “The River” present the artist as a pop singer, aligned with the Grunge genre, and offering somber lyrics designed to allow time for the listener to consider their meaning. “Tropic of Cancer” settles in with over-dubbed electric guitars and bass for a picture-perfect scene of some distant land where one’s troubles will surely melt away.

Similarly, “Remember to Breathe” paints a picture of New Adult Contemporary scenery with landscapes that pass you by during your drive in the country. Michel Legrand’s “The Summer Knows” serves as the album’s highest point. Presented first with its familiar loping melody and then with an interesting improvised guitar chorus. The song reveals Curtis’ ability to create spontaneously and in great detail.

by Jim Santella