Curse of Queen's Diamond

Curse of Queen's Diamond

Dave Lisik

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Dave Lisik (trumpet)
Amy Rempel
Colin Hemmingsen
(bass clarinet)
Paul Dyne
Richard Nunns
(taonga pūoro)

The Curse of the Queen’s Diamond
is a new collection of works composed by Dr. David Lisik for a small chamber ensemble of improvising musicians, featuring scholar and performer of traditional New Zealand Māori instruments (taonga pūoro), Dr. Richard Nunns.

The title of the piece is inspired by the curse of the Koh-i-Noor (mountain of light), once the largest known diamond in the world and currently part of the British Crown Jewels. India and Britain dispute the proper ownership of the diamond and a Hindu text from the 1300s describes a curse that will dethrone or harm male monarchs who wear the gem.


"Another beautifully produced (but not over produced CD from New Zealand. This one is on the outer reaches of jazz, & like much of Gavin Bryars and John Surman's work, is very good & sometimes beautiful in a distinctly sombre way. Dave Lisik plays trumpet & electronics & Colin Hemmingsen complements his mournful trumpet with some rich toned bass clarinet. Each piece moves on to the next in a nearly unbroken series, and jazz enthusiasts would probably enjoy Echo, Call For Help and Mercy most."

Martin Bright, UK Jazz Radio


"The Curse of the Queen's Diamond features a stellar ensemble by local standards. The opening track reveals the strengths of this new album — five musicians acutely tuned to what one another are doing, of the basic tenets of most music-making, and absolutely vital when it comes to jazz. The album cover offers the briefest description of what lies behind the 12 tracks or just under an hour of music — the famous Kohinoor diamond, currently in the British Crown Jewels, is now a subject of disputed ownership between India and Britain. Adding a little mystery of it all is a Hindu curse from the 14th century predicting that no good will come of any male monarch who dares to wear the gem. I suspect Rattle is a little concerned about finding a market for this release, describing it as an album for connoisseurs, those with more than a casual listening attitude. But, quite honestly, you’d have to have ears of cloth and a soul of cast iron, not to get a charge from ensemble playing like this. The Curse of the Queen's Diamond is such a marvellous piece of ensemble writing and the perfect vindication of Rattle’s philosophy that they are not interested in musical barriers."

 William Dart, The Critic's Chair


RAT-J-1005 (April, 2011)

This recording was made possible with the support of Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Te Wahanga Aronui, and the New Zealand School of Music

Production: Dr. David Lisik
Mastering: Steve Garden
Design: Carvan
Front cover photography: Viky Garden

Part One: Origin (4.14)
Part Two: The Nest (3.22)
Part Three: Echo (3.50)
Part Four: Early Development (5.50)
Part Five: In Hiding (2.13)
Part Six: Call for Help (6.00)
Part Seven: Mercy (3.38)
Part Eight: Education (4.50)
Part Nine: Contribution (5.12)
Part Ten: Echoes (4.23)
Part Eleven: Passing On (6.18)
Part Twelve: Closing (8.17)



Review by Michael Flynn

Inspired by the curse of the Koh-i-Nor, a legendary diamond that is now part of the British Crown Jewels, NZ-based Canadian composer and trumpeter David Lisik has produced a chamber piece that sits just as brightly in the Rattle Jazz catalogue. Lisik is joined on this recording by a fine ensemble of musicians. Amy Rempel’s sensitive piano playing throughout is exquisite. Colin Hemmingsen on bass clarinet, bassist Paul Dyne and Richard Nunns on taonga puoro, who is in some ways is the lynchpin to many of these pieces. Origin, the opening composition is quite haunting. Eerie in fact. Rempel’s piano is delicate, ethereal, with Nunns adding some beautiful touches as the piece unfolds. Lisik and Hemmingsen work well together, playing in an explorative way, leading the listener effortlessly through the album. The journey is a very enjoyable one. Lisik’s trumpet on the lovely Early Development seemingly compliments the other musicians as they each add to the piece. The dizzy and excitable In Hiding brings tension as the drama unfolds. Melancholia permeates throughout Call For Help. These are outstanding compositions all beautifully performed and yet another well produced release by Rattle Jazz.