Paper Universe by George Crowley
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1. Paper Universe
2. Marty McFly
3. Still Life
4. Embracing Air
5. B Flat Man
6. Demerera Days
7. Bela Lugosi
Paper Universe: Promotional Video
About: Paper Universe
Release Date: May 7, 2012: Worldwide Stores and Digital
In a market flooded with new releases by young artists from every corner of the world, it is a welcomed rarity when an album bursts out amongst the crowd and is glistening with maturity of concept, sound, emotion and true empathy within the group. George Crowley has accomplished this and more on his debut album Paper Universe. This is not some casual outing, but rather a true artistic statement of depth by a group of twenty somethings with highly accomplished resumes, who have been developing their musical cohesion and concept since their teenage years.
Paper Universe finds Saxophonist and Composer George Crowley playing his colorful, characterful and melodic originals in the impressive company with peers and long-standing collaborators. Crowley and Kit Downes (piano) in particular have been playing together and making music regularly since the age of sixteen and have enjoyed a long musical friendship, on which the music of the quartet draws heavily. The remaining band members, Calum Gourlay (bass) and James Maddren (drums) are musical associates made at music college at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where all four studied, while racking up countless hours honing their collective craft. The result of this history, therefore, is a high level of near telepathic communication and empathy in the music, as if they have been performing for decades, and one cannot stress enough how rare this is in debut albums.
The musical world of Paper Universe is playful and unpretentious, but the songs themselves take the listener on a journey from gentle and lyrical plains through to the tempestuous and fiery realms of freer improvisation, to more straight ahead jazz playing, referencing an impressive range of influences, all maturely and fondly treated by this engaging quartet.
Each member of the group plays flawlessly, yet it is Crowley's emotionally charged improvisations executed with the precision and wit one would equate to a saxophonist twice his age which lead the way on Paper Universe. Crowley has certainly arrived as an instrumentalist, composer, and musical conceptualist, and Paper Universe succeeds greatly in its sincerity and ability to capture the imaginations of both novices and the most learned audiences in jazz and improvising music.
Best Albums of 2012 (Critics' List) - London Jazz
Best Albums of 2012 (Critics' List) - The Jazz Breakfast
“One of the outstanding UK jazz débuts of recent years. A glorious confirmation of Crowley’s promise.”
4 1/2 Stars, The Jazz Mann
"This is the kind of debut on which illustrious careers are built, and which deserves to raise Crowley’s profile well beyond the London scene."
“An impressively individual statement from an already distinctive voice.. tenor saxophonist George Crowley is only in his twenties but already displays the conceptual and expressive assurance of a veteran.”
4 Stars, MOJO Magazine
"Crowley's warm, melodic style and forthright solos make him one to watch."
Time Out, London
"[George Crowley's] work sounds fresh...[his] rolling, faintly dolorous tenor sax delivers the winding title track and encourages the first of a series of thoughtfully shaped and thrilling improvisations from [Kit] Downes...stories about Crowley's growing promise haven't been exaggerated."
4 Stars, Guardian
“Rarely does a player so young debut with such a fully rounded tone and range of writing skills, so keep a keen ear out for Crowley: the future could yet be his.”
"Creating long, flowing melodic lines with a more contemporary edge, Crowley has the potential to make a major impact...impressive stuff from an imaginative young talent."
All About Jazz
"George Crowley is a new name to keep an eye on as a player and composer...[his] ideas are fluid and flow like a spring tide after a full moon...I look forward to hearing more form this band and leader."
Bebop Spoken Here
"Crowley's band mates lend him exemplary support developing a musical relationship that enables them to accompany with an assured understanding."
All About Jazz
"The title track bustles with purpose, darts down obscure alleys, and pauses to hover over the always alert rhythm section... they accent each turn, twist and change of mood. Elsewhere, tricky lines snake over contemporary swing, “Embracing Air” is a lovely ballad and “Bela Lugosi” is rich with passion and pathos."
4 Stars, Financial Times
"Tenor saxophonist George Crowley brings to this recording the kind of sage judgement and restraint you would more typically associate with a veteran of the scene than a twenty-something music college graduate."
"A very strong album, and having a real tenor romantic on the scene is, indeed, cause for loud hosannahs and hurrahs."
The Jazz Breakfast