Tom Cora
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Curlew: Curlew (1981), 6.5/10
Cargo Cult Revival (1983), 7/10
Curlew: North America (1985), 6/10
Live at The Western Front (1987), 6.5/10
Nimal: Nimal (1987), 6.5/10
Curlew: Live In Berlin (1988), 5/10
Abandon (1988), 6/10
Third Person: The Bends (1991), 5/10
Third Person: Trick Moon (1991), 5.5/10
Ex: Scrabbling at the Lock (1991), 6/10
Ex: And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders (1993), 5/10
Nimal: Voix De Surface (1990), 6/10
Curlew: Bee (1991), 6/10
Gumption in Limbo (1991), 6.5/10
Curlew: A Beautiful Western Saddle (1993), 6/10
Nimal: Dis Tanz (1993), 5/10
Third Person: Lucky Water (1995), 6.5/10
Under Cover Collection Band: Hr-Fest (1995), 5/10
Roof: The Untraceable Cigar (1996), 7/10
Roof: Trace (1999), 5/10
Etymology (1997), 6/10
It's a Brand New Day (2001), 5/10
Links:

Virginia-born cellist Tom Cora (originally Corra) moved to New York in 1979. He joined the free/creative jazz scene and his first recordings were in the ensembles of drummer Andrea Centazzo, vibraphonist Karl Berger, guitarist Eugene Chadbourne and saxophonist John Zorn.

In 1980 he recorded the first album credited to Curlew (march 1980 - Landslide, 1981) with bassist Bill Laswell, guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, drummer Bill Bacon, and reedman George Cartwright. Cargo Cult Revival (march 1982 - Rift, 1983), a collaboration with David Moss, was his first major work. He then became active with the foreign crowd of progressive-rock, in particular the Canterbury exiles (notably, Fred Frith's Skeleton Crew).

In the meantime, Curlew had become the vehicle for saxophonist George Cartwright, who composed most of North America (august 1983 - Moers, 1985).

A 1986 live performance became Tom Cora's first solo album, Live at The Western Front (may 1986 - No Man's Land, 1987).

The following year he joined Nimal (RecRec, 1987), a combo formed by Swiss multi-instrumentalist Jean "Momo" Rossel that straddled the line between jazz, folk and progressive-rock. The jazz-vaudeville themes and the nonchalant conduction are inspired by Frank Zappa, and the value of the music rests in its arrangements. The first of the four parts of La Semaine des Quatre Jeudis simulates an orchestra of bagpipes and a harpsichord beating the tempo. The influence of Zappa's exuberant circus music is even stronger on the slightly out of tune Animal Triste. La Marelle ventures into exotic and medieval music, and the whole album sounds like a merry joke carried out by erudite musicologists.

A new line-up of Curlew, with Cartwright, Cora, drummer Pippin Barnett, guitarist Davey Williams, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, recorded Live In Berlin (Cuneiform, 1988).

After more collaborations with David Moss, Butch Morris, Zeena Parkins, Rebby Sharp, Chris Cochrane, Peter Kowald, a set of duets with alto saxophonist Umezu Kazutoki, Abandon (october 1987 - Umisushi, 1988), two sets of trios with percussionist Samm Bennett and rotating third member, Third Person - The Bends (december 1990 - Knitting Factory, 1991) and Third Person - Trick Moon (Tsuki No Uso, 1991), two joint albums with the punk band Ex, Scrabbling at the Lock (january 1991 - RecRec, 1991) and And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders (RecRec, 1993), and another album with Nimal, Voix De Surface (RecRec, 1990), and another Curlew album, Bee (november 1990), Cora finally released his second solo album, Gumption in Limbo (september 1990 - Sound Aspects, 1991), a parade of twelve brief solo cello vignettes.

Curlew's fourth album, A Beautiful Western Saddle (Cuneiform, 1993), featured Ann Rupel on bass and Amy Denio on vocals, along with old members Cartwright, Williams, Barnett and Cora. The overture, Let's Sit Right Down / The Passing , is a folk-inspired fanfare reminiscent of Lol Coxhill's Welfare State, that is also the most inspired piece of the batch. Denio's roaring voice fueled the hard-rocking Such Credentials As Have Become Pseudonym, Denio's lamenting voice caressed the country-rocking Poem For Gretchen Ruth, Denio's sensual voice led the jazzy ballad Peking Widow, etc. The band tried its best at different old-fashioned styles, revisited through the prysm of prog-rock, without truly excelling at any, except perhaps the Caribbean ballet Now Can You Tell Me Or Can It Still Be Told?. The album was a collection of simple songs sung and played by virtuosi. Human Weather Words has perhaps the best melody (and George Cartwright's best sax solo).

The DVD Hardwood (Cuneiform, 2012) documents a live 1991 performance.

Nimal later pared down to a trio (Rossel, Barnett and accordionist Bratko Bibic) and released Dis Tanz (1993).

Another album with Third Person (by now a permanent trio of Cora, Samm Bennett and Umezu Kazutoki), Lucky Water (june 1994 - Knitting Factory, 1995) was followed by two new projects: the free-improvising Under Cover Collection Band (Burkhard Stangl on guitar, Thomas Chapin and Max Nagl on reeds, Bennett: on precussion), that released Hr-Fest (Knitting Factory, 1995), and the abstract punk-noise experiment Roof (with Luc Ex on bass, Phil Minton on vocals, Michael Vatcher on drums), that released The Untraceable Cigar (february 1996 - Red Note, 1996) and the live Trace (Red Note, 1999).

Etymology (Rarefaction, 1997) assembled 94 brief pieces of solo guitar (Fred Frith), solo cello (Cora) and guitar-cello duos (Frith and Cora).

It's a Brand New Day (Knitting Factory, 2001) collects live performances.

Tom Cora died of cancer in 1998 at 44.

His talent was legendary, but only Gumption in Limbo, Nimal's Nimal and Voix De Surface, and Roof's The Untraceable Cigar stand to prove it.

(Translation by/Tradotto da Davide Carrozza)

Il violoncellista Tom Cora (nato Corra in Virginia) si spostò a New York nel 1979. Frequentò la scena free/creative jazz e le sue prime registrazioni furono negli ensemble del batterista Andrea Centazzo, il vibrafonista Karl Berger, il chitarrista Eugene Chadbourne e il sassofonista John Zorn.

Nel 1980 registrò il primo album accreditato ai Curlew (marzo 1980 - Landslide, 1981) con Bill Laswell al basso, Nicky Skopelitis alla chitarra, Bill Bacon alla batteria e George Cartwright ai fiati. Cargo Cult Revival (marzo 1982 - Rift, 1983), una collaborazione con David Moss, fu la sua prima opera maggiore. Si diede poi da fare con il pubblico del progressive-rock, in particolare con gli esuli di Canterbury (soprattutto gli Skeleton Crew di Fred Frith).

Nel frattempo, i Curlew diventavano il veicolo per il sassofonista George Cartwright, che compose la maggior parte di North America (agosto 1983 - Moers, 1985).

Il primo album solista di Tom Cora fu una registrazione dal vivo del 1986, Live at The Western Front (maggio 1986 - No Man's Land, 1987).

L'anno successivo si unì ai Nimal (RecRec, 1987), una combo formata dal polistrumentista svizzero Jean "Momo" Rossel che cavalcava il confine tra jazz, folk e progressive-rock. I temi jazz-vaudeville e la direzione noncurante sono ispirati da Frank Zappa, il valore della musica è negli arrangiamenti. La prima delle quattro parti di La Semaine des Quatre Jeudis simula un'orchestra di cornamuse e un clavicembalo che porta il tempo. L'influenza dell'esuberante musica circense di Zappa è anche più forte in Animal Triste, leggermente stonata. La Marelle si avventura nelle musiche medievale ed esotica, e tutto l'album sembra una burla portato avanti da musicologi eruditi.

Una nuova formazione dei Curlew, con Cartwright, Cora, Pippin Barnett alla batteria, Davey Williams alla chitarra e Wayne Horvitz alle tastiere, registrò Live In Berlin (Cuneiform, 1988).

Dpo altre collaborazioni con David Moss, Butch Morris, Zeena Parkins, Rebby Sharp, Chris Cochrane, Peter Kowald, un insieme di duetti con Umezu Kazutoki al sax alto, Abandon (ottobre 1987 - Umisushi, 1988), due set in trio con Samm Bennett alle percussioni e un terzo turnista, Third Person - The Bends (dicembre 1990 - Knitting Factory, 1991) e Third Person - Trick Moon (Tsuki No Uso, 1991), due album con gli Ex, Scrabbling at the Lock (gennaio 1991 - RecRec, 1991) e And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders (RecRec, 1993), e un altro album con i Nimal, Voix De Surface (RecRec, 1990), e un altro con i Curlew, Bee (novembre 1990), Cora rilasciò finalmente il suo secondo album solista, Gumption in Limbo (setembre 1990 - Sound Aspects, 1991), una parata di dodici brevi vignette per solo violoncello.

Il quarto album dei Curlew, A Beautiful Western Saddle (Cuneiform, 1993), vantava Ann Rupel al basso e Amy Denio alla voce, con i vecchi membri Cartwright, Williams, Barnett and Cora.

I Nimal divennero poi un trio (Rossel, Barnett e Bratko Bibic alla fisarmonica) e pubblicò Dis Tanz (1993).

A un altro album con i Third Person (ora un trio definitivo con Cora, Samm Bennett and Umezu Kazutoki), Lucky Water (giugno 1994 - Knitting Factory, 1995) seguirono due nuovi progetti: l'improvvisazione libera della Under Cover Collection Band (Burkhard Stangl alla chitarra, Thomas Chapin e Max Nagl ai fiati, Bennett alle percussioni), che rilasciò Hr-Fest (Knitting Factory, 1995), e gli esperimenti astratti punk-noise dei Roof (con Luc Ex al basso, Phil Minton alla voce, Michael Vatcher alla batteria), che pubblicarono The Untraceable Cigar (febbraio 1996 - Red Note, 1996) e il live Trace (Red Note, 1999).

Etymology (Rarefaction, 1997) include 94 pezzi brevi per sola chitarra (Fred Frith), solo violoncello (Cora) e duetti chitarra-violoncello (Frith e Cora).

It's a Brand New Day (Knitting Factory, 2001) raccoglie performances dal vivo.

Tom Cora è morto di cancro nel 1998 a 44 anni.

Il suo talento era leggendario, testimoniato solo da Gumption in Limbo, Nimal e Voix De Surface dei Nimal, The Untraceable Cigar dei Roof.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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