Chuck's debut solo album "Late Bloom" Available now on and
A Place For Music
Some music is intended as just “fun.” Its intention is to make you tap your foot, shake your butt or just plain giggle. Some music is intended to find and touch a deeper place inside of you. Mr. Curry’s “Late Bloom” fills both of the functions, and sometimes, even in the same song.
The wonderful thing about music is that it can speak to you in ways no words ever can. It can take you places that you didn’t know you had. This is what happens when you listen to this CD.
The musicianship is impeccable. You’ll rarely find a better collection of musicians whose names you’ve never heard than Chuck has assembled here. Whether we’re talking about Ron James’s understated drums that subtly but authoritatively push the music along, or John Willis’s bass that you don’t even know you’re hearing as it sneaks into your body and makes it impossible for you to keep from moving in time with it, these folks have some game. Joe Corral's flute on “Morning” takes you to some tropical island you’ve never visited but you want never to leave. And when you hear Chuck’s trumpet, you’ll find a strength and clarity of tone that remind you why you loved the trumpet in the first place. I could go on quite a while about the musicians on this disc (including a beautiful string section that is used tastefully and effectively), but you’ll have to take my word for it until you hear what I mean.
The songs, themselves, though, are what I think I like most in this album. Most of these are original compositions, and they are not only, as one would expect from a musician of Chuck’s ability, musically magnificent, but the lyrics are the sort you find yourself thinking about long after the album has ended. My favorite is the opening track, “A Place For Me,” because of its use of a great horn section, a groove that is irresistible, and lyrics that are both personal and universal, as most good poetry is.
“Some people play the game to perfection
Master the art of lies and deception
Yes I was wrong, but I never thought that that was you”
We all know some version of this girl, and Chuck’s music describes her even better than his words. The love we feel, the searching we do to find a place in her life, and a place for her in ours is, for me, the heart of this song.
And while you can’t resist the groove and you feel the need to move when you hear it, (in short, it’s fun), you also find yourself lost in your own reflections while the music seeps into your soul.
There are other songs on this disc that are more concerned with reaching into you, either to soothe or to stir your emotions, (among these are “One Red Rose.” “Breeze Off The River,” and “I’m Home), and still other entries that are intended for pure entertainment (such as Chuck’s wonderful vocal work on “I Can See Clearly Now” or the band’s party / jam session on “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” on which you will even find tap dancing!), and they are all worth your time.
But, for me, the other song deserving of greater attention is “Look To The Rainbow.” This is an old favorite of mine, and previously I had thought Al Jarreau had this one locked up in the same way I’ve always maintained Judy Garland owned E.Y. Harburg’s other great tune, “Over The Rainbow.” Chuck changed my mind about this. In Chuck’s version, the joy comes from its simplicity. Instead of trying to do the acrobatic phrasing of someone like Jarreau, Chuck arranged this tune in a straightforward way so that we understand why we should “follow the fellow who follows his dream.”
This is Chuck’s first album, but I see him following his dream here. And I plan to take Harburg’s advice, and follow Chuck’s career down its own yellow brick road. I urge you to do the same.
- Fred Eder, Noted playwright and critic
A fine debut album
Chuck Curry is a talented trumpet player, vocalist, composer and arranger. The musicians that he has assembled play together with intelligence and ease. Soloists come forward and decisively own their moments, then melt back into a well-balanced and blended ensemble. The rhythm section is equally adept at insistently driving a song forward, as in Place for Me and I’m Home, or letting a song unfold with supple, unhurried grace, as in Look to the Rainbow and 1000 Times. There are songs here to please a variety of tastes, from lushly orchestrated ballads to Latin Jazz to beatboxing.
In this review, I’ll focus on three songs. This is not to slight the others; every track on this album is solid. But each listener will have his or her favorites, and mine happen to be Place for Me, 1000 Times and Breeze Off the River. Place for Me is just the right way to start the album. Ron James on drums and John Willis on bass drive the tune relentlessly forward, while the comping of Beth Lederman on Piano is overlaid lightly on top. Ellie Hoffman’s Baritone Sax rises up from below with a fat and satisfying riff. I love how Adam Armijo’s fluid guitar work flows right over the top of the horn ensemble.
1000 Times is a song that makes me smile. In just a few bars, this one would bring out the best old dancers on to the dance floor—the ones who know each other’s moves without thinking, and rest on each other as gently as snowflakes on a branch. In particular, Beth Lederman’s piano is delightful; she has a light touch and knows how to fill the spaces with just the right amount of notes—not too few and not too many. The strings are tastefully arranged, and the solos by Curry on Flugelhorn and Ted Belledin on Tenor Sax nestle perfectly into the soft bed the rhythm section has laid down for them. Vocally, Curry is at his best on this song. This is a fine tune; I could listen to it… well, a thousand times.
Listeners who are parents might feel a special affinity for Breeze Off the River. This is a beautiful song on many levels. I love the sincerity of the lyrics and the simplicity of the vocal delivery. Curry’s instincts are just right; he knows when to speak a line instead of singing it, he knows when to slip into falsetto, he knows when to open up the pipes, and he knows when to let a lyric land softly on the ear so that the emotion lingers.
As I said before, each track is strong. Curry’s interpretation of Look to the Rainbow is worthy of the praise a previous reviewer has already given it; I would say it demonstrates many of the same qualities that I found appealing in 1000 Times. The energy and layered complexity of songs like I’m Home and Place for Me are a good contrast to the ballads. I like how Curry’s trumpet cascades over the top of the very busy percussion and strings on I’m Home. Tizoc Guerrero on percussion adds a lot of life to this tune. The more relaxed Latin groove of Morning is fun, and as the only instrumental on the album, it features some nice solo work by Curry on trumpet and by Joe Corral on flute. In fact, throughout the album many musicians shine on solos—too many to mention here by name. Hats off to them all. Also, my failure to mention certain tracks should not be taken as dismissal. Listen to the album and decide for yourself what moves you. I recommend Late Bloom, and am looking forward to more from Chuck Curry.
- Mark Rozema, acclaimed author and music critic
Chuck Curry performs on the acclaimed CD "Advances" by the Kinch Band. Check out his overdub trumpet work on the song "Fare Forward"!!