Artist: Curios

Date of Release: 01/09/2008

Catalogue no: 1522

Label: Impure Music

Price: £9.99

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Track Listing







Little Sharks & Baby Dolphins




The Tiling Song












Trackside View








Song For Greta


















Appearances by

Tom Cawley

The follow-up to last year’s critically acclaimed debut Hidden, Closer takes the dynamic, melodic musical world of Curios to a new level. Led by pianist and composer Tom Cawley (keyboardist with Acoustic Ladyland) and featuring bassist Sam Burgess and drummer Joshua Blackmore, Curios follow last year’s best album nomination with a richly deserved victory in the Best Band category at this year’s BBC Jazz Awards and Closer is set to cement Curios’ reputation.

Drawing on Cawley’s eclectic passions (including iconic pianist Brad Mehldau to whom he pays tribute on ‘Bradford’, romantic classical music and, er, motorsport journalism) Curios’ musical world is self-contained and yet utterly expansive, shifting effortlessly from moments of real beauty to passages of fiery explosiveness. Underpinned by Blackmore’s edgy, dynamic drumming and Burgess rhythmic drive the group visits the outer boundaries of the jazz piano trio’s possibilities; Cawley’s passionate music and expressive playing enables them to explore an enthralling world that is in turns beautiful, fun, searching and wild, but always powerfully compelling.




21/09/2008 The Observer

The 'new concept' of the jazz piano trio is rapidly becoming the accepted model, and as we get used to the new equality of roles for piano, bass and drums, it becomes possible to decide on the bands we like best. So far, I prefer Curios to any of the others. Partly this is because pianist Tom Cawley writes attractive themes, but mainly because all three play with such finesse. I'm not alone: Curios were voted Best Band in this year's BBC Jazz Awards. Bassist Sam Burgess and 22-year-old drummer Joshua Blackmore have a fine rapport, and it is a joy to follow each of the 10 pieces as it takes shape. Three sharp musical minds in perfect accord.


13/09/2008 Financial Times

Curios were welcome winners of Best Band at the BBC Jazz Awards this year. Following not too closely on the heels of major influence Brad Mehldau, pianist Tom Cawley with Sam Burgess and Joshua Blackmore on bass and drums have developed an interplay that mixes romantic classical, angular modernism and rock into the jazz canon. The 10 vignettes muse on fatherhood, household chores, people met and private obsessions, but though deeply personal, the result is warm-hearted and immensely accessible.


06/09/2008 vortexjazz.co.uk

Following up the success of their debut album, Hidden, Closer is the debut release on pianist Tom Cawley’s own label, Impure Music, which also provides free downloads ( of a solo Cawley EP and a Curios live session.
Making a decent second album, after an auspicious debut, can be tricky, but Curios have pulled it off triumphantly, retaining all the fire, ebullience and the rackety exuberance of Hidden and adding to it the considered, musicianly quality that characterises the work of one of Cawley’s chief inspirations, Brad Mehldau (referenced on the track ‘Bradford’).
Instead of piling straight in with an attention-grabbing scorcher, for instance, the album opens with a highly affecting, thoughtfully pattering piece inspired by a children’s swimming class, ‘Little Sharks and Baby Dolphins’, and subsequent Cawley compositions reference everything from home improvement (‘The Tiling Song’) to the band’s shared passion for motor sports (‘Trackside View’, ‘Roebuck’, ‘Jenson’), but whether they’re in rambunctious or meditative mode (and bassist Sam Burgess and drummer Joshua Blackmore are whip-smart in each), Curios combine fierce interactiveness with tender sensitivity, rendering Closer continually compelling for its dynamic variety, bristling energy and sheer musical adventurousness. Warmly recommended.


04/09/2008 TheJazzMann.com


The piano trio Curios emerged to great critical acclaim in 2007 with their debut album “Hidden” on Jazzizit records. Their eagerly awaited follow up “Closer” appears on pianist Tom Cawley’s own Impure label.

Cawley is ostensibly the leader ,writing all the material on the new record, but the trio prefer to trade under the collective name Curios to emphasise the democratic nature of the group. Bassist Sam Burgess and young drum prodigy Josh Blackmore are very much equal partners in the creative process.

Curios are heavy on group interaction with each member fulfilling a key role in the music. Their joyous live shows (as detailed on the Lichfield RAJB Festival feature on this site) feature all three members bouncing ideas off each other in a dazzling display of music making. Behind the virtuosity lies an impish sense of humour, Cawley and his colleagues know how to have musical fun.

The records, almost inevitably are more considered with Cawley’s classically honed stylings to the fore. Cawley has a way with a tune and there are some gorgeous melodies here to go alongside all that technique. The group are adept at taking a simple phrase or motif and expanding upon it, all the while opening up new possibilities.

The opening “Little Sharks & Baby Dolphins” is a case in point, building from simple beginnings with one idea flowing into the next, a reflection of the water based nature of the title. The mood is reflective, evoking Cawley’s classical influences (he cites Debussy, Chopin,Schubert and J.S.Bach) with Blackmore’s subtly detailed drumming a particular delight.

“The Tiling Song” represents a complete change of mood and pace and also highlights the group’s whimsicality and humour. The artful dissonance, tricky time signatures and overall sense of fun are destined to make this a live favourite. The whole group, and Blackmore in particular sound as if they’re having a ball on this one. Throughout the album Blackmore skilfully deploys the full sonic capabilities of his kit, using sticks and brushes,skins and rims, and exhibits a sublime touch at the cymbals. He seems to throw the whole kitchen sink into “The Tiling Song”

The title track returns to more romantic territory with a gorgeous melody from Cawley and a wonderfully resonant bass passage from Burgess. This segues almost seamlessly into “Curious” which eventually takes flight with Cawley producing turbulent, tumbling clusters over Burgess’s busy bass pulse and Blackmore’s chattering drums. Curios are capable of accelerating from nought to a hundred and twenty in seconds and making it sound entirely organic and natural. And of course they’re just as adept at reversing the process.

The motor racing analogy is intentional. Both Cawley and Burgess are fanatical about the sport (and football too for that matter) and I assume that the title of the next piece “Trackside View” is a reflection of this. The music, by contrast, is atmospheric and mysterious with Burgess’ rich, dark arco bass opening the piece in tandem with a wordless vocal (presumably his own). Cawley’s thoughtful piano and Blackmore’s subtly rolling drum accents enter the fray before the tune segues into “Roebuck”.

Continuing the motor racing theme the tune is named after Nigel Roebuck, Cawley’s favourite motor racing journalist. Again the music is more considered than the inspiration behind it might suggest with another strong tune and some beautifully limpid piano from Cawley. Only in the closing stages do the group up the tempo with Blackmore roaming around his kit in a display of controlled exuberance.

The beautiful child like melody of “Song For Greta”, a dedication to Cawley’s young daughter sees the return of Burgess’ bowed bass on the intro before Cawley takes up the theme, one of the most memorable on the album.

“Jenson” (as in Button) continues the motor sport fixation. Yet another winning tune this features another excellent solo from Burgess, a player with a huge tone and an amazing dexterity.

Besides his classical influences Cawley is also an admirer of American jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. Both men have an incredible technique, but although Cawley may have been influenced by Mehldau he is no copyist. Cawley has developed an altogether more English sound and prefers to concentrate entirely on original material rather than deconstructing pop songs and standards in the manner of the American.

Nevertheless “Bradford” is a dedication to Mehldau which after a gentle opening featuring arco bass quickly explodes into life. There are times here when Cawley’s dense playing recalls Mehldau’s own but with the help of his colleagues he demonstrates that Curios are a fine band in their own right.

The album ends with the elegiac “Truce”, yet another beautiful tune.

With “Closer” Curios show clear signs of development, improving even on the hugely impressive “Hidden”. The trio make a great team with Burgess’ agile but muscular bass and Blackmore’s delightfully detailed drumming the perfect foil for Cawley’s wonderfully articulate playing. Blackmore gets better every time I see him and it’s clear that the group will get better still.

They are already right up there among the great piano trios-Taylor, Mehldau etc.-and thoroughly deserving of their prize at the 2008 BBC Jazz Awards for best group.

"Closer" is as good a piano trio album as you’re likely to hear all year.


02/09/2008 BBC Music

This is the second LP from Tom Cawley's trio of progressive jazz merlins. An unusual yet engrossing encounter pulsating with quirkiness that gels instinctively between the three. The BBC Jazz band of the year deliver something wistful, absorbing, relaxing and challenging all at the same time.
Cleverly written, the LP seems to evolve as a whole composition, with one track starting where the other leaves off. Take Roebuck into Song For Greta, or Closer into Curious. This continuous programme makes for a beautiful unity.

Though he's the sole writer here, keyboardist Tom Cawley (of Acoustic Ladyland renown) gives the rhythm section of Burgess and Blackmore clear room to manoeuvre and explore. Intuitively they swap roles. Curious shows off Cawley's technical fluidity with Burgess adding his own twist on the groove and getting a lot of mileage out one idea. Linked with Closer you appreciate that these tunes form the spine of the album.

Yet the album has many sides. There are the tender forays into daydream-like ballads like Trackside View: it encapsulates a bitter sweetness, with Burgess' melancholic, cello-like playing giving willowy held notes. You can almost forgive them their vocals as they search for that added texture. Again, working in tandem with Roebuck, it really allows the listener to follow the flow of the trio and the resonance of each instrument as Blackmore tickles and shimmers the cymbals. The understated funk in Bradford is just fine. Cawley's chord groove unleashes Blackmore and Burgess into Headhunter territory.
An album of great subtlety and nuance, we are reminded with Truce that this is a quintessentially English type of treasure: measured, bright yet delightful and verging on the experimental. Well recommended.


29/08/2008 The Guardian

Acoustic Ladyland pianist Tom Cawley's Curios took the Best Band prize at the BBC Jazz awards in July - but if he's the electronic engine room of Acoustic Ladyland, Cawley is a subtle acoustic pianist with Curios. He sounds more creatively distanced from his model, Brad Mehldau, here, and the conversational empathy with bassist Sam Burgess and the young Derby drummer Josh Blackmore puts the group up with the world-class practitioners of this intricate and intimate kind of jazz. All the compositions are Cawley's, and they are often brief, Satie-echoing or lullaby-like motifs that Burgess's taut contrapuntal playing and Blackmore's bumpy tatoos, hi-hat hisses and intensifying drama turn into miniature epics. The title track is whimsical, with a folksy four-note theme reminiscant of Abdullah Ibrahim, but Cawley develops it by slowly warping the harmony. He is often reflective, but bursts with ideas at higher tempos, such as over Burgess's driving bass walk and Blackmore's imperious pulse on the track Curious. This sophisticated group's award-collecting looks likely to continue apace.


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