Julian Curwin’s The Mango Balloon is essentially a stripped-back chamber version of The Tango Saloon, with a lighter sound bringing lounge, exotica and continental jazz to the larger band’s tango/western blend. Volume 3 also features special guest Shenzo Gregorio (aka Shenton Gregory), perhaps best known for playing ‘stunt violin’ in his own project Shenzo’s Electric Stunt Orchestra (essentially, he flies!). With The Mango Balloon, Shenzo plays viola, and keeps his feet firmly on the ground, though still manages to bring plenty of fireworks to the occasion.
- The Pigeon
- High Noon
- Cloud Town
- Frijoles Negros
- Wake In Flight
- Little Havana
- White Elephant
Review in The Sydney Morning Herald (7/6/14) by John Shand (4.5 stars)
Comedies are shorter than dramas because they find our boredom threshold faster. Music is the same: jollity palls sooner than ripping out our hearts. Few operate in both camps, and fewer still effect a balance. Guitarist Julian Curwin is one.
When he first started releasing his Tango Saloon and Mango Balloon albums Curwin seemed an extremely talented dilettante. It’s now clear he’s much more than that. The compositional ideas here are extraordinarily wide and wildly imaginative. The range they ride has jazzy, classical, cowboy, Gypsy and Latin elements, and more that have no name. The balance between what we might call the whacky and the moving is not only more astute, but, best of all, the line between them has blurred.
This has happened despite the arrangements for his exceptional collaborators – Marcello Maio (accordion, piano), Sam Golding (brass), Mark Harris (bass), Danny Heifetz (drums), Jess Ciampa (percussion) and Shenzo Gregorio (viola) – being pared back with Beckett-like ruthlessness. The result is a gripping clarity of ideas and delightful haze of emotional impact.