Oct 22, 2018
Although he was born in Texas, Rudy Royston was raised and educated in Denver, Colorado, and it was there that he was mentored by trumpeter Ron Miles, and made a name for himself in the area’s fertile jazz, gospel and alternative rock scenes. After supporting himself as a public school music teacher, Royston came east to study at the prestigious Rutgers University music programs, studying percussion with Victor Lewis (Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz). In just over a decade, Rudy has made himself into a first-call drummer, playing and recording with the likes of Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Greg Osby, Ravi Coltrane, and Branford Marsalis. Since 2012 he has appeared on at least six CDs a year, both as a band leader and a sideman on memorable CDs by JD Allen (Radio Flyer), Rudresh Mahanthappa (Birdcalls) and Dave Douglas (Be Still).
2018 is no different. Besides contributing to the latest releases of Theo Hill, Lewis Porter and JD Allen, he has been part of his wife Shamie Royston’s quintet on the swinging Beautiful Liar, and his third CD as a leader, Flatbed Buggy. The CD is one of this year’s finest, primarily due to the strong material Royston has brought to his musicians, and the almost cinematic way their textures and melodies carry the song along.
Royston has put together a fascinating collection of instruments here to join his drums – John Ellis on bass clarinet as well as sax; Gary Versace on accordion; Hank Roberts on cello; and Joe Martin on bass. As Rudy points out in our talk, these are mostly lower register instruments, and the results can be mournful at some times, but more often project a sense of longing and discovery. And all with one drum solo on the whole CD!
Podcast 643 is my conversation with Rudy Royston as we talk about the genesis of Flatbed Buggy, how he chose his musicians for such a special project, and what he loves about playing with his wife Shamie and JD Allen. Musical selections from Flatbed Buggy include the title track and “Soul Train,” plus the title track from Shamie Royston’s Beautiful Liar.