Curtis Hasselbring

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Number Stations (2013), 6.5/10

New York's trombonist and guitarist Curtis Hasselbring formed the Mellow Edwards in 1988 and reformed them as the New Mellow Edwards in 2001. The New Mellow Edwards (august 2004) and Big Choantza (recorded in 2008) featured Hasselbring, Chris Speed on clarinet, tenor sax & casio, Trevor Dunn on acoustic bass and John Hollenbeck on drums, percussion & melodica. For Number Stations (Cuneiform, 2013) the combo consisted of saxophonist Chris Speed, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Trevor Dunn (of Mr Bungle), vibraphonist Matt Moran, and percussionists Ches Smith and Satoshi Takeishi; basically the New Mellow Edwards (Speed, Dunn, Smith) joined by Decoupage (Halvorson, Moran, Takeishi). The compositions artfully employ the technical skills of these musicians to thrive at the unlikely border of order and disorder, noise and melody. The chaotic percussion and minimalist repetition of First Bus To Bismarck lead to a soulful bebop dialogue between the horns. The Cuban-tinged suspense-filled Tux Is Traitor boasts a nostalgic trombone melody and a swinging vibrahone solo before turning into a jagged jam. The extremes can be joined in the most radical manner: the joyful catchy tune of Make Anchor Babies sounds like a tribute to the cinematic soundtracks of the 1960s, but then fades into a oneiric finale. Another piece that harks back in time is 37 56' 39" By 111 32', a bluesy shuffle in which the trombone seems to mimic Luis Armstrong's most colloquial and charming style. The leader's sense of humor is responsible for the driving Frank Zappa-esque vignette of Green Dress Maryland Welcome Center 95 NB. The ten-minute It's Not A Bunny (composed in 2010), ostensibly the most ambitious composition here, is actually the weakest piece, slow and confused.

Curha's I (2018) was a collaboration with his brother Jack on tenor sax.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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