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
Official worldwide release date - May 7, 2012
It's a welcomed rarity when a debut album stands out amongst the crowd, glistening with maturity of concept, sound, emotion and empathy, and the young London-based saxophonist and composer George Crowley has accomplished this and more on Paper Universe, his first solo album. What's also refreshing is the album was recorded by a group of twenty somethings who have been developing their musical cohesion since their teenage years.
Paper Universe finds Crowley playing his colorful, characterful and melodic originals in the impressive company of peers who despite their age have impressive resumes and are long-standing collaborators. Crowley and Kit Downes (piano) in particular have been playing together 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 associates made at music college during their time at The Royal Academy of Music where all four studied. Here they racked up countless hours honing their collective craft, the results of which are immediately apparent on the record.
The musical world of Paper Universe is playful and unpretentious, and 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 the album. With Paper Universe Crowley has certainly arrived.
An Album of the Year - London Jazz
An Album of the Year - The Jazz Breakfast
“One of the outstanding UK jazz débuts of recent years. A glorious confirmation of Crowley’s promise.”
★★★★½ 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.”
★★★★ 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."
“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."
★★★★ 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