precious things 2002

Precious Things

  1. hyperbubble
  2. cold war
  3. precious things
  4. wonderwall
  5. x factor
  6. urban reshuffle
  7. no nylon
  8. n16
  9. smells like jazz

Click here to buy mp3 tracks from this album…

  • Deirdre Cartwright – guitars
  • Janette Mason – piano/synths/hammond organ
  • Alison Rayner – double/electric bass
  • Carola Grey – drums

All tracks composed and arranged by Deirdre Cartwright except ‘Hyperbubble’ and ‘Urban shuffle’ composed and arranged by Alison Rayner. ‘Wonderwall’ composed by Noel Gallagher arranged by Deirdre Cartwright.

sleeve notes

?…The musical references are wide, and the idiomatic relaxation unforced and effortless, hardly surprising when you consider the breadth of this enthusiastic performer’s musical life. Deirdre Cartwright has a shrewd awareness of what works for audiences, balanced by a restless musical curiosity and an improviser?s openness to surprises.

As the title tells you, the heartbeat of ?Precious Things? is Deirdre Cartwright’s favourite music ? but though the bluesily expressive guitar/organ sound of a style going back to Grant Green and Jimmy Smith is central to it, you’ll also encounter one of Oasis’s best-known themes in ?Wonderwall? fragments of the repeating riffs and evocative electronics of drum ‘n’ bass, and some uninhibited and open-handed swing on ‘X Factor’.

Echoes of Herbie Hancock?s Headhunters swirl around the gurgly bass intro to ?Hyper Bubble?, a shade or two of Pat Metheny and Ralph Towner in the falling cadences and delicate lyricism of the title track, and a taste of John Scofield?s raucous funkiness on ?Smells Like Jazz?.

But all these elements are drawn together by Deirdre Cartwright?s highly personal appreciation of their essences rather than their mannerisms, as well as a composer’s boldness (check out the hot, Mediterranean folk-dance vivacity of the counter-melody to the funk riffs on ?No Nylon?) and powerful participation from all the group members.?

John Fordham The Guardian jazz critic
Editor JazzUK


?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 to produce witty and personal music in the process.?
Dave Gelly, The Observer

?On ?Precious Things? she shows her jazz versatility as her all-female quartet breeze through organ-based grooves, swing and fusion. The title track sounds like Pat Metheny on a good day and ?Smells like Jazz? is snaky funk that John Scofield would be proud of.?
John Bungey, The Times

?Cartwright?s mingling of a Metheny-like sound and delicate textures suggestive of Ralph Towner is very expressive on the title track, and the idiomatic range is full of surprises.?
John Fordham, The Guardian
?From bassist Alison Rayner’s ?Hyperbubble?, to the harmonic complexity of Deirdre Cartwright’s title track, and a pulsing, fast swing version of ?Wonderwall?, the music is intensely hip, groovy, accessible and atmospheric. Get out and see them!?
Kathy Dyson, Musician magazine

?..and it?s for me the most exciting track from an absolutely great album by the guitarist Deirdre Cartwright. I got the CD last week and Monday hasn?t come around quick enough.?
Humphrey Lyttleton, BBC Radio 2

?Her reworking of the Brothers Gallagher?s ?Wonderwall? sums up the whole of ?Precious Things? in one glorious swipe. Similarly, tracks such as the futuristic ?Hyperbubble?, the Scofield-esque ?Urban Reshuffle? and the intriguingly titled ?Smells like Jazz? are played with a knowing grin and glint in eye. The playing is rock solid, especially from Cartwright herself whose absorption of many styles – hard bop, organ trio groove, present day fusion – is equally refreshing. Her choice of bandmates is spot on with Grey, Rayner and Mason all sharing the same sense of humour and frivolity. Imagine Jim Mullen meets a jazz incarnation of the Beverley Sisters and you will have some idea of the ensuing mood.? (You will? – ed).
Rick Finlay, Jazz Review

?The title track is a little gem of modern guitar playing, with its Bill Frisell meets Pat Metheny wide open spaces feel.?
Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post

?.. this collection confirming her as a player (and composer) with the rare gift of saying things in a concise and direct way. In fact one of the most outstanding aspects of this CD is the evident lack of fuss and exaggeration, with tunes, arrangements, and solos all developed thoughtfully, with everything superfluous or excessive left out. Overall, there is clearly a strong instrumental voice here, and a firm sense of direction throughout an absorbing album.?
Pete Martin, Jazz UK

?… only serves to highlight the leader?s own compositional skills on the well-crafted title track in particular. The fleeting references to Nirvana?s ?Smells Like Teen Spirit? on ?Smells Like Jazz? tantalised me further – I wish that she?d actually covered the Cobain song. It has a depth of feeling that entirely suits Cartwright?s robust, driving style.?
Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes

?.. good things such as the fractured riffing of ?Smells like Jazz?, the spikey post-bop of ?X Factor? and the volume swells of ?Urban Reshuffle?, and there are neat touches of drum ?n? bass and Latin rhythms throughout. Best bit? N16?s Hammond -driven funk. Inspiration Factor? High. How many excellent female jazzers do you know? *****?
Guitar Techniques

?Precious Things?, the third album from the Deirdre Cartwright Group, is an infectious, adventurous celebration of music and life. The nine tunes included here were recorded in North London during April 2001. However the emergence of the CD also tragically coincided with the death of guitarist Cartwright?s sister, Bernice, at the age of just 43. The end result is, fittingly enough, a musical triumph ? a collection that is at once playful, thoughtful and exploratory.

This time the cast involves three collaborators: long-time sparring partner Alison Rayner (electric and acoustic basses), Carola Grey (drums), and Janette Mason (Hammond organ, piano, synths). Rayner and Cartwright were part of ?80s headliners The Guest Stars. They are now leading lights in the ?Blow The Fuse? jazz project, which has its own web presence. Mason worked with a prestigious line-up (Annie Whitehead, Julie Tippetts and many more) on the ?Soupsongs? tribute to Robert Wyatt in 2000. She has toured with Carol Grimes and she recorded ?Live At The Purcell Room? with her own band in 1995. Grey?s career in the US, Germany, Britain and South East Asia has involved playing with the likes of Mike Stern and Ravi Coltrane. Altogether this is a considerable array of talent, and they certainly deliver.

Those familiar with the laid-back style of Deirdre Cartwright?s ?Debut? (1994) or the slightly more assertive guitar grooves on ?Play? (1999) might initially find themselves a bit taken aback by ?Precious Things?. It is more eclectic in its references, but also somehow more organic in its sound. A good trick if you can pull it off. First we have the burbling drum and bass riffs of ?Hyperbubble?, one of two tracks written and arranged by Rayner. Then on the equally danceable ?Cold War? the Hammond?s roomy acoustic conjures up the ghost of a rider on the storm. This sets the scene for some marvellous guitar organ/duetting throughout the album.

The title track bends a couple of memorable melodic riffs through some metrical, harmonic and key-shifting hoops. Tricky playing, but not at all self-conscious or showy. ?Wonderwall? follows ? a jaunty instrumental version of the famous Oasis tune. Good to see Noel Gallagher in decent company for a change. ?X Factor? swings willingly and allows Grey room for a few pleasantly un-egotistical drum exercises.

?Urban Reshuffle?, the other Rayner piece, begins by creating a bass, snare and breathy organ texture upon which Cartwright and Mason double a melody before heading off in their own directions. Towards the end the guitarist hints at Bill Frisell in her use of effects. Elsewhere you might pick up shapes of Green, Montgomery, Abercrombie. But Cartwright?s inventive phrasing and bell-like clarity of tone is distinctively her own. The last three tracks feature the gentle grooving of ?No Nylon?, harder-edged lines on ?N. 16 (Stoke Newington, home of the fated Vortex club), and rippling slabs of guitar set against cymbals and airy organ interludes on ?Smells Like Jazz?.

Deirdre Cartwright is a rare talent indeed; the sort of musician you would actively wish commercial success upon precisely because you know she has the integrity to resist its blandishments. On ?Precious Things? she demonstrates considerable instrumental and compositional prowess. But she does not do this by hogging the limelight or by cramming in solos. Rather she generates a refreshing sense of musical space with a group of fine players who really seem to enjoy bringing the best out of each other. The result is an album of depth and quality as well as much surface attraction. Wholeheartedly recommended.

An extraordinary guitar talent with an unselfish, uncluttered, liquid technique and strong compositional and arranging skills. Deirdre Cartwright is the very spirit of jazz.
Simon Barrow, Top 500 Reviewer