Cartridge — Black Heron and the Spoonbill

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

About Black Heron and the Spoonbill

“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.

This album is the 22nd release on PJCE Records, a label directed by Lee Elderton and Douglas Detrick, and founded in 2013 by Dan Duval and Andrew Oliver as a subsidiary of the Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble, a large ensemble dedicated to new music by Oregon jazz composers. The label releases albums of new original music from Portland artists, covering a range of styles from ambient jazz to world-influenced chamber music to modern jazz and the avant-garde. Hear the whole catalogue at

About John Savage

Flutist, saxophonist, and composer John C. Savage has been compared to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Herbie Mann, Noah Howard, and Ian Anderson. Known equally as “a thoughtful and rigorous improviser,” and “a badass, knock-down-drag-out force to be reckoned with” (The Willamette Week), Savage lived in New York City for almost a decade performing with, among others, The Savage 3, Billy Fox, The Brooklyn Qawwali Party, and the Andrew Hill Big Band. Savage continues to be a sought-after soloist and collaborator on both coasts working with a wide variety of artists, including the NYC-based Kitsune Ensemble , Point to Line (with flutist Lisa Bost-Sandberg), and Portland’s Demolition Duo. Savage has received honors and awards from New York University, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission, and the Portland-based Regional Arts and Culture Council. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University in music performance and improvisation.

About Will Northlich-Redmond

Will Northlich-Redmond is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, electronic musician, and educator.  He has played concerts and appeared at festivals with Eyvind Kang, Graham Haynes, Ruins, Blaise Siwula, Ron Anderson’s PAK, Fennesz, Funckarma, the Kronos Quartet, Ceephax Acid Crew, Alec Empire, Richard Devine, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Time of Orchids, Mambo Mantis, John Savage, and Robert Dick.  Performance and studio collaborations include work with Elliott Sharp, Phillip Johnston and his Captain Beefheart tribute project Fast N’ Bulbous, Esther Lamneck, Eugenio Sanna, Marilyn Crispell, Pauline Oliveros, Paula Matthusen, the Wesleyan Laptop Ensemble, and Troika Ranch.

Will’s compositions have been featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, New York University, Wesleyan University, the NYC Fringe Festival, and numerous international venues.  Work has been supported by the NYU Vilar Global Fellows, the Portland Flute Society, the STEIM research center, the Wesleyan Laptop Ensemble (Toneburst), the Wesleyan University Balinese gamelan ensemble, and the NYU New Music Ensemble.  He has master’s degrees in teaching, music composition, and ethnomusicology.

Album Credits

John C. Savage, c flute, alto flute, sogeum, suling, alto saxophone
Will Northlich-Redmond, 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

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 @ Stereophonic Mastering

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