Drummer Rudy Royston debuted his group Flatbed Buggy in 2018, with the eponymous Greenleaf Records release. It had the feeling of a jazz-folk chamber group. With its unusual instrumentationGary Versace's accordion, Hank Roberts' cello, and John Ellis' bass clarinet joining Royston's drums and Joe Martin's bassa laid-back and engaging Americana vibe emerged.
The follow-up, Day, is more of the same, with a bit more swing. With an ear towards the past, the sound recalls drummer Chico Hamilton's mid-50s work. Hamilton also employed cellists, Nathan Gershman and Fred Katz. That said, it is not the cello which gives the music the folk mood; it is more the accordion and bass clarinet combination; and the airy, relaxed arrangements.
Royston has done sideman work with guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and trumpeter Dave Douglas, but his most influential relationship seems to come from his Colorado connection with the late trumpeter Ron Miles (1963 -2022). Royston's music has a dream-like, in-the-now quality, similar to that heard in Miles' work. It is distinctly American. Flatbed Buggy (Greenleaf, 2018) and Day sound as if they could serve as soundtracks to movies about late nineteenth-century traveling music shows, with Versace's accordion and Robert's cello lightening gravity's pull, and Ellis' bass clarinet at times adding a bit of whimsey. It could be a group set up on a raised wooden sidewalk in front of the saloon or the general store, entertaining the gathered townsfolk.
"It never is really a drummer's record," Royston says. That is true. It is an ensemble record, where Royston is subtle and often understatedthough he does swingserving the music in the best possible way.
Morning; Five-Thirty Strut; Thank You For this Day; Limeni Village; Look To The
Hills; The Mokes; Five-Thirty Strut; Missing You; Keep It Moving; It's Time To Sleep;
John Ellis: bass clarinet; Gary Versace: accordion.
| Year Released: 2024
| Record Label: Greenleaf Records
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