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Ballad records are always a risky proposition. It takes a certain degree of finesse to pull off an hour of slow-tempo, melodic pieces without sending the listener into boredom. On Broad Strokes, trombonist Roswell Rudd takes the plunge, with mixed results.
Rudd spent the '60s playing with free jazz luminaries like Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, and Archie Shepp; he teamed with Steve Lacy for an all-Monk band. Although he spent a lot of time as a sideman, his own personal discography as a leader has tended toward the sparse side. In the last few years he's been hiding out in the Catskills, drifting into obscurity.
Broad Strokes documents the recent return of Rudd to the recording world. Tracks like Herbie Nichols' "Change of Season" and Monk's "Coming on the Hudson" receive sensitive and emotionally rich interpretations. But Ellington's "All Too Soon/Way Low" sags into the realm of downtempo Lawrence Welk; and Rudd's own "Sassy and Dolphy" suffers from rudimentary guitar accompaniment by Duck Baker and frighteningly incompetent vocals by Christopher Rudd. Overall, this record is for Roswell Rudd fanatics only. If you're new to Rudd, you should check out a record like New York Eye and Ear Control and dig for the rootsinstead of listening to a disc that demands frequent use of the fast forward button.
Track Listing: Change of Season; Sassy & Dolphy; Almost Blue; Stokey; Coming on the Hudson; God Had a Girlfriend; All Too Soon/Way Low; Theme from BABE; The Light; Change of Season.
Personnel: Roswell Rudd, Steve Swell, Josh Roseman: trombone; Ron Finck, Harvey Kaiser, Steve Lacy, Elton Dean: saxophones; Bobby Johnson Jr., Greg Glassman: trumpet; David Winograd, tuba; Matthew Finck, Duke Baker, Eddie Diehl, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo: guitar; Mike Kull: piano; Christopher Rudd, Steve Riddick, Roswell Rudd, Sheila Jordan: vocals; Ken Filiano, Bill Dotts, Jean-Jacques Avenel, Allan Murphy: bass; Lou Grassi, John Betsch, Eugene Randolph, Steve Shelley: drums; Carlos Gomez: percussion.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.