Roswell Rudd | Roswell Rudd

Verve/Free America 5 Tracks Recorded 1965, Hilversum, Netherland

Trombonist Roswell Rudd is a spirited musician — and an associate of Steve Lacy's — and he was one of the first white players to enter a 60's free jazz scene mostly populated by Black artists.

Rudd had studied comparative music (now 'world music') at Yale University and engaged in musical studies also at Yale from 1954 to 1958. His earliest jazz gigs were with 'Dixieland' musicians like Red Nichols, Bud Freeman, Wild Bill Davidson, and Herbie Nichols (the latter and his music became a life-long subject of study and appreciation by Rudd.)

But Roswell Rudd soon opted to play ‘avant-garde’ jazz, and it is this exciting combination of apparent opposites that continues to distinguish his trombone playing and his subtle compositions. Put simply, the strengths and beauties of Rudd's music lie in its excesses and sudden shifts, as well as its associating of extremes and finding the common element in them.

"Respects", with its unison and then upward glisses, is really all about Rudd's acute structural awareness. Like in Monk's music, there's a complete form to his compositions. And, like Steve Lacy, Rudd has studied Thelonious Monk's music intently over time. Structural. Everything's beautiful when everything fits together.

On all of these tunes, the fantastically gifted altoist John Tchicai sings, he complements, he works the tune, he cries, he shimmers. As does Dutch bassist Finn Von Eyben contribute vital pulse and articulate deep bowed lines to the group's life, Louis Moholo is watchful and moving things along, ever making sure the total sound is rich and alive.

"Jabulani" starts like a kid's march, then careens off into free space. Rudd's wonderful trombone episodes and 'manly' broad-chested songs ring so true, but soon his tonguing urges the return of the theme, which then opens up to extreme high register swoons.

As Rudd's gruff repeated notes prod, the irresistible life pulse of bassist Von Eyben and South African Louis Moholo support the soloists' flights, which are so fluid, tough and lyrical, and full of promise.

Here we have...

An open journey of rhythm-space-sound
Where group lyricism and collision of
startled thought/emotion/bombast/glissando/
soars the trombone's voice/to animate farther
the aural space of Roswell's
sensitive heart.

In Rudd's sound, there is something of marching bands and something of Africa, there's 'tailgating', there's grainy growls and then his soars and his speaking in sudden registers, in all that his sensuous voice commands.

This delightful CD's eponymous title is Roswell Rudd, just like a business card.

Roswell Rudd.

Funny, isn't it? how the title fits.

Roswell Rudd — trombone
John Tchicai — alto saxophone
Finn Von Eyben — double bass
Louis Moholo — drums
We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report by David Fujino
• •
for The Live Music Report

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