R.U.B. is the cooperative trio of Ned Rothenberg, Uchihashi Kazuhisa, and Samm Bennett and their cleverly titled Are You Be is a tour de force sonic exploration of rhythm and tonality notable for the many different soundscapes it traverses. Rothenberg's formidable technical skills and imaginative improvisational abilities on alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet have grown even more impressive since his excellent early solo expositions on Lumina records and his sound has matured to become both darker and more expressive.
Bennett is a veteran of the downtown scene who moved to Japan several years ago. The symbiotic relationship between Bennett's percussion and electronics is central to the group's expansive nature. He is a very tonally aware drummer and extremely rhythmic in his use of electronics, which sound alternately earthy and ethereal.
Japanese guitarist Kazuhisa, who has worked with Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser, as well as Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins and Hans Reichel, possesses a multifaceted approach to his instrument that reflects the influences of these collaborators within his own truly personal style, which meshes perfectly with his current colleagues.
The 13-track disc consists of ten tight terse group improvisations and one trio composition by each member of the group. The record remains interesting by seamlessly segueing through a varied program of vastly different sounding tracks that range from minimalist textural tapestries to rocking psychedelica to hard grooving electric jazz reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time, Arthur Blythe's Lenox Avenue Breakdown and Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society. Maybe others would be better able to describe the music on the disc to those who regularly listen to this type of music and relate it to its traditon. I can only admit how surprisingly satisfying I found the new-to-me music of this very fine band.