Black Heron and the Spoonbill | Cartridge

Avant World-jazz duo Cartridge’s new album travels the globe with flutes, saxophones, guitar, drums, ambient electronics and voices, building up many-layered sonic meditations that inspire joyful dance as much as thoughtful reflection.

“When Will and I work together, it feels like there is a third person playing with us,” composer, flutist, and saxophonist John Savage said about his duo with percussionist and producer Will Northlich-Redmond, and when you hear their music, you’ll know what he means. This album, with its layered approach to building on the foundation of simple, tuneful melodies with drums, guitar loops, electronics and spoken word, sounds like the work of far more than just two people. And with the addition of non-western woodwinds and percussion instruments played by both members, it sounds like an army of people who come from all over the world.

The title of the album was inspired by the special symbiosis that exists between these two birds that eat different foods but hunt in the same marshy habitat. The spoonbills frenetic foraging style stirs up not only the crustaceans and insects it prefers, but also the small fish that the heron stabs with its sharp, pointed beak. “I’d say Will is the spoonbill,” Savage said of Northlich-Redmond’s enveloping style, which, of course, makes Savage the heron. “I like to look for openings in the texture to make my statements,” he said, or in other words, to make the right sound at the right time.

The tune “Murphy’s Hook” is a perfect example of the band’s approach. The piece was originally created as an acrobatic but overall simple melody by Savage. When the duo fleshed out the arrangement for this recording, with distorted guitars, gourd drums and percussion joining the composer’s flute, the piece takes on an epic quality, building on itself in what Savage called a “feedback loop” of intensity, as if the “Jethro Tull and Iron Maiden tour buses collided.”

Flutist/saxophonist John Savage and percussionist/producer Will Northlich-Redmond met as students at New York University, where they first performed as a duo on a flute and electronics piece by Northlich-Redmond. Since then, they have performed at The Kennedy Center, and in venues in California, Oregon, and New York. Their cd release concert will take place in Portland on the Creative Music Guild’s Outset Series, a twice-monthly concert series devoted to local experimental music.

John C. Savage—c flute, alto flute, sogeum, suling, alto saxophone

Will Northlich—electric guitar, udu, oud, percussion, vocals, electronics


Ken Ollis—drums

Claudia F. Savage—poetry*

1. North Korean Blues Savage

2. Murphy’s Hook Savage

3. Lulla Northlich-Redmond

4. Flight To Prism Expanse Northlich-Redmond

-On the Backs Of Egrets

-Floating Cylinders

-Plateau Of Mirrors

-Topaz Cathedral

5. Alluvial Plains Savage

6. Yadumu Northlich-Redmond

7. Afterthought* Cartridge
released 17 June 2015

Tracks 1, 2,3,6, and 7 recorded by Dave Fleschner at Dave’s Attic

Tracks 4 and 5 recorded by Josh Powell at the Map Room

Additional recording by Will Northlich-Redmond

All tracks mixed and produced by Will Northlich-Redmond

Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering

*“A Circle Inside A Circle Inside” composed and read by Claudia F. Savage