Curtis at The Gig

The Players: Curtis, guitar; Don Mouck, Bass; Scott Shepherd, Drums.

Material: All instrumental, this music is very sophisticated and experimental, as it crosses genres with the ease of wind chimes. It’s easier to follow than it is to explain, because it comes across so sweet and smooth. Most of the songs at this gig were relatively short and quick, which always left you wanting more. Curtis did a couple covers, including smoking versions of “Hideaway” and Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”, but his original material was no less interesting and displayed a tremendous virtuosity. This artist has a real knack for forming concise emotions with a wide range of music, and projecting them to his audience. While it seemed a little self-indulgent at times, it was never enough to turn you off. This concept is very interesting, because he covers a broad range of styles, but shapes them into his own signature sound.

Musicianship: It took this three-some about three songs before they started jelling, but once they settled in, it was smooth sailing. Mouck and Shepherd laid down abstract rhythms that were pleasing, with innovations that were startling. This dichotomy was not as contradictory as it seems however, because although fancy in structure, the music was simple in feeling. Curtis held it all together with his all-encompassing mastery. It seemed as if this guy could do almost anything – and he did – from rockabilly and blues rock to swing and jazz flavors.

Performance: Once he warmed up, Curtis, himself, became very animated onstage and intensely got into the songs. He was a pleasure to watch as he physically conveyed the essence of his material sharply and distinctly. The only improvement he needs to consider is to maybe talk a bit more between songs. He usually went from one tune straight into the other, which left you wondering just what song he was doing. It would have been much better had he simply just stated a title before he began playing it.

Summary: This is mood music of the highest caliber. Not quite new age or jazz, but bordering both, Curtis has apparently found a way to combine his many interests into one cohesive body of music. The thread that held it all together was the purity and simplicity of the feelings, which, no matter how complex the music became, always came across well defined. This is one artist who clearly communicates his message through his music.

– Bernard Baur