I have been a composer, performer, band-leader, producer and musical collaborator for over 30 years. My career began in my home state of Mississippi, developed at The Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY, flourished in New York City, Memphis, and, for the last twelve years, has continued to flourish in Minnesota. During this time I have produced over 25 recordings of my music.
Some of my earliest memories are of singing in church and learning songs at my grandfather's knee. I grew up on rock-and-roll and fell in love with jazz after hearing Charles Lloyd's iconic Forest Flower. As a child; I took piano lessons, and later learned to play the guitar by ear. I started composing on the guitar, writing songs with words and creating instrumental pieces in the manner of Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey. In high school, I was a big fan of the British bands that played blues and was thrilled to discover that they had found the blues literally in my own backyard of the Mississippi Delta.
I bought my first sax on my 21st birthday. I got it from a second hand thrift store with 65 dollars, a present from my grandmother. I was irresistibly drawn to the beauty and passion of jazz saxophone. It was in college, after hearing Ornatte Coleman's "Dancing in Your Head," that I started finding melodies and ideas for songs and began seriously composing.
After college I studied for a year and a half at the Creative Music studio in Woodstock, New York where I was exposed to the music and concepts of Dave Holland, Anthony Braxton, Karl Berger, Frederic Rzewski, Kalaparusha, Ursula Oppens, Leo Smith, Oliver Lake and many of the major jazz innovators of the time
In 1979 I moved to New York City and formed a trio with Michael Lytle and David Moss that became known as Meltable Snaps It, giving performances at The Kitchen, Public Access Synthesizer Studio. The Franklin Furnace, Phil Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation, Inroads and other venues.
That same year I started my band Curlew with bassist Bill Laswell. Curlew went on to record 12 CD’s and LP’s for Cuneiform and a few other labels. The band included such notables as Tom Cora, Fred Frith, Wayne Horwitz, Davey Williams, Anne Rupel and others. Curlew performed extensively: at The Kool Jazz Festival, The JVC Jazz Festival, The Knitting Factory Jazz Festival, CBGB's, The Santa Fe Center For the Arts, The Edge Fest, The Erie Art Center, The Boston Museum For Contemporary Art, The Guggenheim Museum and many other venues and festivals in North America and Europe
Recently one of my songs was included in the Winter issue of the Oxford American magazine’s ‘Music of Tennessee’ issue along with Johnny Cash, BB King, Issac Hayes, Big Star, Elvis, Bob Dylan and many more.
After our son Ray was born my wife Anne Elias and I left New York City and moved to Memphis in 1993, returning to my roots in the South after 15 years away. For the next six years I was involved with other musicians and bands while continuing to produce recordings with Curlew. While living in Memphis I continued writing and performing around town and producing recordings
We moved to St Paul in 1999. On moving to Minnesota I found a tremendous wealth of like-minded musicians with whom I continue to play and record to this day.
Among the many gifted musicians I have worked with are Ornette Coleman, David Thomas, Chris Stamey, Myra Melford, Kip Hanrahan, Alex Chilton, Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock, Fred Frith, Butch Morris, The Box Tops, Paul Haines, Kevin Norton, Robbie McCauley, Mark Dresser, Carei Thomas, Davey Williams, Chris Cochrane, Michael Lytle, Adam Linz, Jt Bates, Alden Ikeda, Michelle Kinney, Jacquelin Ultan, Anthony Cox, Michael Lewis, Dean Granros, Davu Seru, Andrew Broder and others.
Notable appearances in the Twin Cities have included performances at:
The Cedar Cultural Center, Walker Art Center, among them The Triple Rock with Christian Marclay and Andrew Broder, The Dancing in Your Head Festival, the Three-Legged Race’s Summer Blizzard Festival and The New Music New Voices series at the Walker Art Center.
2015 Inclusion in ‘The Mississippi Encyclopedia published by The Center
for Southern Folklore at The University of Mississippi along with
Robert Johnson, BB King and many others. (to be published)
2008 Jerome Foundation Composer’s Commissioning Program
2003 Jazz Musician of the Year by The City Pages.
2003 McKnight Composer’s Fellowship
Mississippi State University BA,
Jackson State University,
Memphis State University,
The University of Southern Mississippi,
The Creative Music Studio
Private studies with Jimmy Guiffre, Les Scott, Byard Lancaster, Burnet Tuthill, Kalaparusha and Wilber Moreland.
Continued studies in computer technology using Cubase SX 5,Plogue Bidule, Ableton Live and numerous sound processing technologies.
As Leader of Curlew:
A Beautiful Western Saddle - Curlew (Cuneiform, reissued 2010)
Gussie-Curlew (Roratorio) Dec. 2003 Live at Gus Lucky's limited edition of 436 lps with hand painted covers by Anne Elias
Mercury-Curlew- (Cuneiform )Sept 2003
Meet The Curlews- Curlew (Cuneiform) Jan 2003
North America Curlew (Cuneiform) with Tom Cora, Fred Frith, Mark Howell, Butch Morris,Pippin Barnett, Rick Brown,Nicky Skopelitis, Anton Fier and Otto Williams
Fabulous Drop- Curlew (Cuneiform ) 1998
Paradise- Curlew (Cuneiform) 1996
The Hardwood- Curlew (Cuneiform) 1992 live video
Bee- Curlew (Cuneiform) 1987
Live in Berlin- Curlew (Cuneiform) 1986
Curlew George Cartwright, re-issue of the very first Curlew lp by DMG as a double cd with Bill Bacon, Bill Laswell, Nicky Skopiletis, Denardo Coleman, and Tom Cora(excellent liners notes here also)
Oxford American Winter 2013 Tennessee Music Issue: I had the honor for my song ‘He Who’d Ask’ included on the compilation with Johnny Cash, BB King, Issac Hayes, Big Star, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Alex Chilton, The Bar Keys, Roseanne Cash and others. Scroll down to cd # 2.
Send Help (Innova) George Cartwright with GloryLand PonyCat Adam Linz, Alden Ikeda , Andrew Broder songs by George, Bob Dylan, Ornette Coleman, Anne Elias.
A Tenacious Slew(Innova)- George Cartwright, November 2006 with Chris Parker, Adam Linz, Alden Ikeda, JT Bates, Anne Elias and Christina Baldwin recorded at The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota . (Innova) 2007
The Ghostly Bee- (Innova) George Cartwright Sept. 2005, with Davey Williams, Bruce Golden, Adam Linz, Chris Parker . Innova) 2006
The Memphis Years- George Cartwright (Cuneiform) 2000
DOT - George Cartwright (Cuneiform 1986)
Red Rope- in duet with Michael Lytle (CIMP) 1998
George Cartwright and Andrew Broder wirh Andrew Broder (Roaratorio 2002)
Meltable Snaps It with Michael Lytle and David Moss (RecRec Germany) 1986
Bright Bank Elewhale with Michael Lytle (Corn Pride 1979) out of print
Hallelujah Anyway: Remembering Tom CoraVarious - (tzadik 2002)
Integrated Variablesby Kevin Norton with Mark Dresser (CIMP) 1992
Coup De Tete by Kip Hanrahan (American Clave 1982
Plus, and in no particular order:
Coup De Tete American Clave); Unsettled Scores (Cuneiform)Hallelujah Anyway ( Remembering Tom Cora); Darn it! (American Clave) Bright Bank Elewhale (Corn Pride Live at the Knitting Factory Vol 1 (Knitting Factory World) The 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love (Shimmy Disc) and others.