ROSWELLIANA

ROSWELL RUDD                                                                                                                   Trombone Tribe                                                                                                                         Sunnyside SSC 1207

Roswell Rudd – tbn all sides: Gangbe Brass Band of Benin (1, 11-15), Martial Ahouandjinou – tbn; Magloire Ahouandjinou, Eric Yovogan – tpt; James Vodounnon – tuba; Lucien Gbguidi – ts; Benoit Avihou – perc; Crespin Kpitiki – perc; all – vo on “Vocal Doxology” (Vodelee, Belgium: 2007): Bone Again (3, 4), Eddie Bert, Sam Burtis, Josh Roseman, Wycliffe Gordon – tbn; Barry Altschul – dms (New Orleans: 5 Jan, 2008): Bonerama (6), Steve Souter, Mark Mullins, Craig Klein, Greg Hicks – tbn; Bert Cotton – gtr; Matt Perrine – sousaphone; Eric Bolivar – dms (New Orleans: 27 Feb, 2008): Trombone Tribe Band (2, 5, 7, 8, 9), Steve Swell, Deborah Weisz – tbn; Henry Grimes – bass/vln; Bob Stewart – tuba; Barry Altschul – dms (Rhinebeck, NY: 28 May, 2008): Sex Mob (10), Steven Bernstein – slide tpt; Briggan Kraus – as; Doug Weiselman – clt; Marcus Rojas – tuba; Tony Scherr – bass; Kenny Wolleson – dms (NYC?: 2003)

Fan Fare/Elton Dean/Astroslyde/Hulla Gulla/No End/Bone Again/To The Day/Sand In My Slide/Slide And The Family Bone/ Twelve Bars With Sexmob/A Place Above (Intro, doxology, vocal doxology, modal improv) /Fan Fare. [TT : 66:00]

Right off, I must say once again that Roswell is a family friend and one of our son’s honorary godfathers! And I may even have had a hand in suggesting he do a trombone group/choir album sometime in the past – I even had the audacity to suggest some musicians! Leaving that aside, this CD is way more than my original idea (although it may incorporate some of it) and it takes in a broad spectrum of possible musical approaches and combinations, from a Benin-based brass band to Steve Bernstein’s Sex Mob. On this record are Roswell with a variety of “other” established groups (Sex Mob, Bonerama, Gangbe) as well as a couple that he’s assembled for recording. His years working with Alan Lomax with the world’s music certainly opened up his ears (“big” already!) to other musical possibilities and not just within the many North American traditions. (Great to hear him reunited with Henry Grimes, too, who’s in great form and sound [although his arco work is a little suspect!])

The CD is a well-programmed listen through many musical possibilities based around Roswell’s main instrument – the trombone. Beginning and ending the album with a fanfare bookends all that happens in between in a great context of some of the musics of the world. This is one album that you can put on and listen to from start to finish, or you may pick and choose at random… no matter, any old way will do it! Excellent arrangements and solos abound. This is an album that I will install on my iTunes as soon as I’m done listening and writing and go back to frequently! It’s pointless (and too difficult) to attempt to point out highlights… it’s all good – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – for this is TOP-SHELF jazz !! (I wish I were still doing my 2MBS-FM jazz radio show, for this would be a featured in-depth album.) Right on, Brother Roz. (P.S. – How about teaming up with some of the trombone “shout” bands from the Daddy Grace churches… Amazing Grace?!).

PETER B. LOWRY

published: IAJRC JOURNAL; Vol 45, No 2 – June 2012, p. 73/4.

DAVID OQUENDO & ROSWELL RUDD                                                                                        El Encuentro

Mojito Records 245360122-2                                                                                                                                       Roswell Rudd – tbn/vo; Oquendo – gtr/vo (Union City, NJ – 2007).

Manteca/Autumn Nocturn/Sunshine of My Life/Mujer Ardiente/Dame la mano/Stairway to Heaven/Mucho Corazon/Manha de Carnaval/Cool Blues/Siboney/El Manisero/This Old Trombone. [TT: 60:00]

ROSWELL RUDD & MARK DRESSER                                                                              Airwalker                                                                                                                                             Clean Feed CF066

Rudd – tbn; Dresser – bs (Saugerties, NY – 4 Aug, 2004).

Calypso Lite/Airwalkers (tk 2)/Pregnant Pauses/Roz MD/Duality/ Burst/Don’t Blame Me/Lovers Waltz/Airwalkers (tk 1). [TT: 60:00]

Roswell has had many exciting, often cross-cultural, band combinations in his spate of relatively recent releases, “but I think that what is a kick is some of this duet stuff”*, such as these two albums. While he has plenty of recent material with various groups (“ethnic” included!), including his working quartet, Roz is one to try anything that is musical to see if it “works”. His years of working for/with folklorist Alan Lomax have worked their way into his musical brain so that he loves to experiment and take chances, often with “other” musical cultures!

Serendipity results in many an interesting situation… this is one of them! The Cuban-born guitarist was first noted by “Rudd Central” in a documentary show, DAME LA MANO, on the Sundance Channel – let’s hear it for cable TV! Roz decided to combine with the guitarist in the studio after sitting in with him, playing standards from the US and Cuban traditions… or both. The disc kicks off with Dizzy’s Latin anthem, “Manteca”, in fine fettle, and choogles along from there as they have a wonderful time in each other’s company. The melodies are properly honored with beautiful playing – Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, and Jimmy Page even get name-checked as composers! – as well as appropriate variations and improvisations. To say that both have the chops for this is an understatement, but it’s not a chops exercise at all… they’re there to be used when necessary. Oquendo has a fine voice, as well as being a good guitarist: Roswell uses the plunger on a few of tunes, plays open on the rest. (p.s. – this is Roswell Rudd’s first album of “standards”! [With a VERY flexible definition of “standard”, too!] I’d love to hear Roswell with Eddie Palmieri sometime.) A quietly seductive album that grows on repeated listening… even “Stairway to Heaven” makes it! “Next to improvisation, the constant reinterpretation of standards, like classical music, is one of the things that keep music alive and moving into the future.”** Recommended.

The other duo album isn’t that new, but it’s still worth while and worth noticing even without any standards! Roswell once said to me that he couldn’t see any difference between N.O. polyphony, and “free” jazz – each instrument played its part. He also plays a TROMBONE (slurs, glissandi, plunger wa-wa, mutes… you know what I mean!) and not a fast, large bebop trumpet-like instrument as did J.J. This is chamber jazz of the finest kind by two very fine musicians who listen to each other, for most of this CD is done in the studio without prior organizational meetings! Is this your kind of jazz? I don’t know, but it works for me, big time and is an unexpected pleasure.

Duets are all the rage these days, but Roz ain’t cashing in on a fad – he’s just doing what sounds and feels good to him with some kindred spirits. While not foot-patting, finger snapping music, these are both good and full listens. One instrument for each ear, as it were! Give ‘em a go.

PETER B. LOWRY                                                                                                                             Sep ’09; V43, #3 – p.90]

* personal written communication from Roswell to me.                                                                 ** album liner notes, by Roswell Rudd.

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