Deirdre Cartwright

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Reviews of Deirdre Cartwright


18/02/2011 John Fordham

“Deirdre Cartwright and Kathy Dyson – who were the only two professional women jazz guitarists in Britain when they met 25 years ago, and still are – have devoted this set to Emily Remler, whose heroin-related death at 32 deprived jazz of one of the most creative developers of Wes Montgomery's bop-to-blues style. It's a mix of Remler's favourite standards (Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, How Insensitive) and originals in a similar coolly swinging vein, some studio improv, a Pablo Neruda poem delivered as a song for vocalist Sarah P, and the blues and bossa nova references so close to the New Jersey guitarist's heart. Cartwright and Dyson exchange murmuring lines on Softly after a theme of gleaming harmonics, and push each other more insistently in the later stages of a live All the Things You Are. Cartwright's lilting bossa Hello World and the earthy, clanging blues catch the ear, but it's the free-flowing, improvised 8 on 12 and a brooding and then reharmonised Afro Blue (turning into a Sarah P poem dedicated to Remler) that avoid the more routine aspects of traditional standard-song jazz jamming.”


21/05/2009 Chris Parker

EMILY REMEMBERED: The rapport, manifest throughout the evening, between Cartwright and Dyson, was clearly both musical and personal, springing in part from the fact that, when they initially met in 1984, they were the country's only two professional women jazz guitarists, and now, 25 years on … you've guessed it.
Judicious use of harmonics in the theme set this version (of Softly as in a Morning Sunrise) apart as something special, and then Cartwright and Dyson took it in turns to explore one of the most accommodating and immediately recognisable chord sequences in the music, the former with characteristic brio, all spangles and curlicues, the latter slightly more circumspect, humming softly along with her absorbing, elegant solo.”http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/gig-reviews/2009/may/emily-remembered.html


27/04/2009 Lance blog from Newcastle

EMILY REMEMBERED:"All The Things You Are" reminded me of MJQ. The interplay between the guitars could have been created by Milt Jackson & John Lewis - that's how good it was.


18/05/2008 Stewart Lee The Sunday Times

‘Her sinewy guitar fronts a sparse trio - with beatnik spoken-word injections from Sarah P - who stretch out like a psychedelic 1960s blues band, but take the blind leaps of faith of improvisers. Highlights are the Nirvana grunge-fusion Smells Like Jazz and a sublime exploration of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.’


20/04/2008 Dave Gelly The Observer

‘If there is a more complete guitarist in contemporary music than Deirdre Cartwright I'd like to know who it is.’


03/04/2008 John Fordham

‘Cartwright’s coolly undulating Grant Green shuffle groove is one of the understated pleasures of UK’s contemporary fusion’


10/11/2006 Tigger 23

The Deirdre Cartwright group made a welcome return to Lichfield when their latest tour stopped of in the city. The four piece group played a selection from their own music and some well chosen cover versions.

Deirdre Cartwright is widely regarded as one of the best live jazz guitarists playing on the circuit, and her group of bass and drums allows her to use the full range of colours within her palette. The three piece started of with two new pieces from their latest album, with able support from double and fretless bassist Alison Rayner and drummer Buster Birch adding weighty support to the subtle guitar playing of the ensembles leader.

Singer and lyricist Sarah P was invited to play to songs with the group, the highlights of which were the haunting ballad ‘Dust’ which included atmospheric chords and bowed double bass, and the as yet unrecorded track ‘In the Bag’ which closed the show.

As well as Jazz, the band also played elements of rock. The first set closer was ‘Smells like Jazz’ which included quotes from Nirvana’s ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ and the type of virtuoso electric guitar playing more often associated with such stars as Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, with the full tilt rhythm section at times sounding a lot like Cream, Taste, and other power trios.

The second set was opened with a jazz reading of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ which was started by a double bass refrain, before the familiar vocal refrain entered. Other songs played include the Deidre Cartwright’s gently swinging and lyrical ‘Precious Things’ and Alison Rayner’s ‘String Theory’ which gave soloing opportunities to all of the musicians.

The band played no encore, and eighty minutes of music would have left an audience feeling short-changed, if the group were not as good as this one.


01/05/2006 Dave Gelly The Observer

“She’s a terrific player, but displays of blinding technique are not her style. Her strength lies in her ability to absorb the huge variety of modern approaches to the instrument, without copying any of them. and produce witty and personal music in the process.”


24/04/2003 Jazz House

Bonington Theatre

HAVING heard the CD associated with this superb group I was well equipped to appreciate Deirdre’s new outfit before the event. In no way was I disappointed, the music was always melodic and accessible and the four musicians were absolutely impeccable throughout the whole performance. The Anne Robinson associated with this group was by no means its weakest link, in fact her unique visualisations provided striking kaleidoscopic images, blending in with the quartet’s ambient soundscape constructions.

Guitarist Deirdre Cartwright, making her first trip to Nottingham for more than four years has developed a rich mature sound, her ensemble work, including fluent chords as well as single lines, was flawless.

Alison Rayner, who has been associated with Deirdre since their days in the all-girl group Guest Stars, played double bass and bass guitar with power and conviction despite a painful injury to the little finger of her right hand. She had an altercation with a loft ladder earlier in the day crushing the finger, which had required surgery.

The group’s drummer Carola Grey, from Germany, was just a mere slip of a girl, but she commanded the rhythm section with quicksilver reactions and ice-pick sharpness. Her solos were absolutely amazing. Janet Mason produced a whole plethora of sounds from her keyboards, from a funky Hammond organ sound, to deep resonant piano and a whole range of special effects.

Deirdre opened with a number from the past Spartia, featuring her long, flowing lines fuelled by powerful backing from Janet’s piano. A brand new number, as yet untitled, had Alison battling gracefully with her string bass before Janet’s Hammond organ sound added a funky feel. Each musician played a duet with Anne Robinson’s visuals, producing striking kaleidoscopic images, blending with the sounds. The Oasis number Wonderwall found Deirdre playing her other guitar with a warm, wrap around sound.

A film made up of Anne Robinson’s busy imaging techniques highlighted by Deidre’s penetrating guitar and a beautiful blend of sounds from piano and bass accompanied the title track from the group’s new CD, Precious Things.
Smells Like Jazz was brittle and funky, Janet’s Hammond producing a tremendous swing.

In the second set Cold War was another busy theme with Deirdre’s long output foiled by busy electronics from Janet.Alison Rayner’s Hyperbubble reminds me of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters with its bubbly bass intro. Deirdre once again combined with Janet’s Hammond effect to produce an exceptionally warm sound. Rolling bass guitar from Alison and superb backing from Carola’s drums. The encore, Minor Aberration, made rapid use of high register guitar combined with sweeping statements from the piano’s huge sound. A great gig by a Jazzhouse favourite. Let’s hope she’s back soon.  


 John Fordham The Guardian

“Cartwright is a melodic, funky and hard swinging guitarist who has learned from a mixture of rock guitar heroes like Carlos Santana and melodically intricate bop guitar stars such as Tal Farlow.”


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