Dec 5, 2017
Roswell Rudd is an undisputed master of the trombone. For me, he is that rare musician who can simultaneously straddle two wildly different musical worlds. He can keep one foot firmly in the musical school where he started, playing Dixieland and Standards; while at the same time being able to play Free Jazz with the wildest cats out there today. As he moves through his Eighties, he is still a force to be reckoned with.
Now with the RareNoise label, and recording at Avant-wizard Jamie Saft’s studio in the bucolic Upstate New York, Rudd has participated in two excellent new albums. The first is the Free Jazz inspired and highly improvised quartet release Strength & Power. Roswell seems right at home with pianist Saft, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Bazals Pandi, players young enough to be his actual children, as opposed to his musical children. It’s an album that grows on you with repeated listenings, as it becomes clear how well the four listen and respond to one another.
Embrace goes in another direction entirely. Recording with double bassist Ken Filiano, and pianist Lafayette Harris in a drummer-less trio, he has singer Fay Victor to carry the melodies of eight classics, ranging from Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” to Ellington and Strayhorn’s “Something to Live For” to “House of the Rising Sun.” All seem to follow in a traditional manner, yet the arrangements, particularly Rudd’s solos and Ms. Victor’s readings of the lyrics, make them stand out.
Podcast 602 is my conversation with Roswell Rudd, as we talk about the two albums, and he remembers his classic records with the likes of Archie Shepp. Musical selections include “Something to Live For,” "Can't We Be Friends," and “Pannonica” from Embrace, the "The Bedroom" from Strength & Power.