Paul Rutherford is the great innovator of the trombone: his Gentle Harm of The Bourgeoisie is described justly (on the CD sleeve of this disc) as "the definitive solo trombone record." On Rottor: The First Full Turn Rutherford is joined by vocalist Julie Tippett (who has brought along her thumb piano), her husband, pianist Keith Tippett (who also plays bells and maracas), and bassist Paul Rogers. Those who missed Gentle Harm can also get a taste of Rutherford's solo technique on his twelve-and-a-half minute trombone solo "Another Solo Turn," which serves as a coda to the quartet's fifty-three minute improvisation, "The First Full Turn."
As might be expected, "The First Full Turn" runs a gamut of emotions and textures. Julie Tippett has a remarkable voice which she uses like an instrument, matching Rutherford's growling trombone or taking manic (and highly virtuosic) solo flights while Rutherford and Keith create contrasts in lower registers. She can move at tremendous speed - and provokes Rutherford, K.T. and Rogers to do so as well - or work in long tones that cue the intrumentalists to lower the volume and intensity. She can growl and twitter in ways to which we're accustomed from horn players, but not from vocalists. It is a tremendous, fascinating performance from beginning to end, showing off not only Rutherford's tremendous coloristic and improvisational ability, but also the considerable skills of Julie Tippett.
"Another Solo Turn," recorded almost three months before "The First Full Turn," is no throwaway. Rutherford has a huge range of expression on his trombone: he can match Roswell Rudd's smears and wails just as easily as J. J. Johnson's smooth precision. By the nature of the case he tends more toward the former than the latter, but he has such a range of expression that he never fails to hold interest. Recommended.