play – 1996

  1. got my modem working
  2. some folks tune
  3. strange but true
  4. flamengo
  5. warm front
  6. view from a mountain
  7. voluble
  8. you wish

Click here to buy mp3 tracks from this album…

  • Deirdre Cartwright – guitar
  • Louise Elliott – tenor sax/flute
  • Alison Rayner – double/fretless bass
  • Gary Hammond – percussion
  • Simon Pearson – drums


  • Co Streiff – alto/soprano sax
  • Diane Mcloughlin – soprano sax
  • Steve Lodder – piano/organ
  • Gary Hammond – percussion
  • Annie Whitehead – trombone


?…Manipulating tones and textures has been one of Deirdre Cartwright?s special talents, and the variety in these eight pieces is quite astonishing. The effect is sophisticated without being pretentious, and her guitar playing grows ever more supple and inventive. Excellent solos.?
Dave Gelly, The Observer

?? always fresh, lively and accessible, but thoughtfully providing plenty of contexts on which some hand-picked soloists can really take off…there?s plenty of fascinating rhythm around Deirdre?s melodic lines. A nicely judged balance between the familiar and the challenging too, with the guest soloists and especially Co Streiff on saxes giving the music edge and urgency.?
Pete Martin, Jazz UK

?A shining example of doing fresh things while keeping the sounds accessible… Excellent music…?
Don G. O?Vanney, Jazz UK

?Good melodies, a tight rhythm section, interesting textures in the arrangements and strong solos all round make for a varied and enjoyable CD.

Her guitar playing is influenced by Metheny, Scofield and Stern amongst others, but this CD is not only for guitar fans. The arrangements give plenty of space to the other musicians, notably Steve Lodder, Annie Whitehead, Alison Rayner on fretless bass and Simon Pearson on drums, most of whom are regulars in her live band.?
Roger Beaujolais, Musician

Type ‘play’ in Amazon’s music section and you might just end up with something you weren’t expecting. Moby’s dance album is pleasant enough. Magazine make up for what they lack though raucous energy. And Joanna MacGregor’s collection of twentieth century piano miniatures is exquisite. But what a happy outcome it would be if someone hunting one of these three ‘Play’ albums was also to make a chance discovery of guitarist Deirdre Cartwright.

And play-ful her CD certainly is, in all senses of the word. Cartwright the composer is restless, enthusiastic, considered and broad in her interests and influences. On this 1998 album you have the sense that there are moments when she throws studio calculation to the wind in much the same way her trios do live. She is a natural improviser and ‘Play’ is very natural jazz.

Along for the ride this time are regular accompanists Alison Rayner (double / fretless bass), Louise Elliott (tenor sax, flute), Steve Lodder (keys) and Gary Hammond (percussion). Simon Pearson joins them on drums. The additional guests are Annie Whitehead (trombone), a stalwart of the burgeoning British jazz scene; alto and soprano saxophonist Co Streiff (known for her work with the Vienna Art Orchestra); and soprano saxophonist Diane McLoughlin (who worked with Rayner in Giant Steppes and has performed with Martha Lewis of Martha and Eve fame).

My memories of this album are its straight-ahead moments. This is possibly because several of the more energetic numbers are regulars in Deirdre Cartwright’s live set lists, along with reworked standards and compositions by the musicians she plays with. All the pieces on ‘Play’ are self-penned and enormously enjoyable, but the twists, nuances and calming interludes are as much part of the picture as the swing. Generally Cartwright grooves more on tour than on her albums, but there are moments here that capture both the intensity and the joyfulness of her craft.

‘Got My Modem Working’ begins with a deft reggae shuffle before settling into one of Rayner’s persistent, infective bass rhythms. Elliott and Cartwright proceed to weave melodic lines over the medium paced swing. On ‘Some Folks Tune’ there is a more spacious feel, with changes of tempo in the guitarist’s legato style and a sweet-timbred bass solo. ‘Strange But True’ eschews percussion for a harmonically fascinating saxophone duet with trombone elaborations and rounded guitar musings of great clarity. This is music of real depth and feeling.

‘Flamengo’ has Latin inflections, but it doesn’t wear them too obviously. McLoughlin’s beautiful ballad eventually gives way to a Barbara Thompson-style workout, complete with touches of flute. ‘Warm Front’ cooks pretty hot for most of six minutes, with Lodder’s pianism urgent and lyrical. ‘View From A Mountain’ builds from a haunting sax melody into a triumphant (but nicely understated) diatonic denouement. ‘Voluble’ then lets some hair down with its irrepressible, funky percussive drive. The album ends on a fitting note with ‘You Wish’. A languorous theme is given the big band treatment just short of swagger.

This album is most definitely worth a play – along with its predecessor ‘Debut’ (1994) and new successor ‘Precious Things’ (2002).
Simon Barrow, Top 500 Reviewer