Two Choruses for Roswell Rudd

Sorry to hear of the passing of a great American musician, trombonist Roswell Rudd.

There’s a large discography. Some of the classics include sessions with Albert Ayler, the New York Art Quartet, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Carla Bley, Charlie Haden, Misha Mengelberg, Enrica Rava…

Probably Roswell could play just about anything, but what made him so good in all those situations was that he always sounded like a folk musician. (In fact he was also an ethnomusicologist who worked for Alan Lomax.)

For his first session, Everywhere, Rudd recorded “Yankee No-How,” a tip of the hat to Charles Ives. However the ultimate tribute to Ives from jazz musicians would be “Robes” from the disc Trickles co-led with Steve Lacy, Kent Carter, and Beaver Harris. Rudd takes the most amazing melodic solo accompanied by the sternest bluesy bass from Carter. What gives the track true Ivesian transcendence is a slow chimes part overdubbed by Rudd.

“Robes” definitely goes on the list of things I have stolen from time and time again in my own career.

The other item that had profound influence was Rudd’s extensive liner notes to the Mosaic collection of Herbie Nichols. Rudd knew Nichols, knew the music, and wrote what is unquestionably one of the greatest musician-penned essays about jazz. In high school I read those notes over and over. I suppose there’s an argument that without Rudd, there’s no DTM.

Fortunately I got to meet Rudd a couple of times and thank him for his outstanding contribution in person. He seemed like a lovely person as well. I am beating the bushes looking for more coverage about Roswell Rudd on DTM, he certainly deserves a salute from the very best brass band. (Update, 12/30: Mr. Jacob Garchik supplied the band.)