The Roswell Rudd / Mark Dresser Duo at UMass, Amherst
Rudd's sound evinced a tunefulness not normally associated with the trombone. Certainly, he maintained the horn's personality, one moment allowing it to speak in discrete tones, the next ripping the sound out as if to create the Doppler Effect or pressing into the instrument to control its output. Nonetheless, playing with nuanced detail on this instrument is difficult and has a limit. The use of a mute allowed for greater characterization and more flexible expressiveness, though Rudd went to only two of them and no more than a couple of times. Rudd excels in his exquisite sense of timing. Had this sense been dampened, he would have failed to float his lines on top of the bass's resonance. He also would have failed to place his instrument's entries in multiple synchronicities with his partner's. And he would have failed to construct a clear and wide-open solo on a final improv that appeared to exude nothing but melody.
Rudd has described the unpredictability of improvisation as a means to unveil unexpected "gifts." Whatever these gifts are (and the audience and perhaps the musicians can never fully know), they are so valuable towards expanding musical language that all that develops in performance becomes a part of both the improvisational and the compositional literature. And if, in fact, creation advances as a result of taking chances that are successful, the cornucopia of opportunities that Dresser and Rudd have endowed to the world of duets will offer a world of reference.
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