TEARS FOR CURSON: Ted Curson (1935-2012)

Ted Curson, 2012.  Photo by Konsta Leppänen.

Ted Curson, 2012. Photo by Konsta Leppänen.

Ted Curson
Fontana : 1966

TC, trumpet, pocket trumpet; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone; Jimmy Woode, bass; Edgar Bateman, drums.

Update: We’re sad to learn that Ted Curson just passed away. RIP to an under-appreciated trumpeter and composer.

At the timeof this recording, Ted Curson was best known for his acclaimed stint with Charles Mingus, not to mention recorded dates with Cecil Taylor and Archie Shepp. But the trumpeter had been quietly honing his own style, not entirely beholden to the New Thing but hardly traditional either. Like many of the Fontana releases of the time, it navigates its own path.

For Urge, Curson convened a killer line-up: Besides fellow Mingus alum Booker Ervin, bassist Woode comes from Duke Ellington’s band and Bateman was fresh off dates with vibist Walt Dickerson.

“Cinq Quatre” is blandly described in the liner nots as a “blues in 5/4″ — but it’s a blazing and barnstorming number that gallops along, propelled by Woode’s steady thump. Taken as a whole, though, it’s not overly steady, as if the rhythm section is slightly out of phase, adding to the urgency of the tune.

 “Musis Sacrum” shows off what Curson and Ervin learned while testifying in front of Mingus on the bandstand. Tight harmonies, a slightly hurried pace, an ever upward arc.

More recently, Curson played the 2005 ATP festival curated by Vincent Gallo, who appears to be a fan, having used Curson’s “Tears for Dolphy” in his film The Brown Bunny.

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