Like many jazz musicians in 2020, drummer/composer Rudy Royston
has felt the direct effects of living in the coronavirus world. The Texas native, now a New Jersey resident, found his streams of income drying up without gigs, but then experienced a fortunate twist of fate that stood him up. Head above water, the artist pays it forward by helping other musicians. The tracks that appear on PaNOptic
were previously recorded but not released. Partnering with the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund
, Royston releases PaNOptic
on Dave Douglas
' Greenleaf label with all proceeds going to that fund.
Solo drum projects remain a relative rarity but there had been a spate of recent releases: the Gerry Hemingway
project Reality Axis
(SyncSource), Tim Daisy
(Neither/Nor Records) from Italian percussionist Carlo Costa
, Chad Taylor
's Myths and Morals
(eyes&ears Records)all in 2018and (h)rouf
(Self-Produced, 2019), a percussion-choreography score by Swiss drummer Vincent Glanzmann. On each album, the artists experiment with some combination of extended technique, electronics and additional percussion instruments. Royston's PaNOptic
takes on the more challenging setting of the unembellished acoustic drum kit.
The album is divided into three sections. The first six tracks were inspired by diverse artists from The Beatles
to the swing era composer/violinist Victor Young, and the second grouping are tributes extended to Elvin Jones
, Bill Frisell
, Jack DeJohnette
and Max Roach
. The last two sections are influenced by sacred music and a selection of poems and music from the likes of Langston Hughes and Herbie Hancock
. Royston illustrates his broad interests across these twenty-three compact tracks. His composition, "deferred," incorporates a spoken verse from Langston Hughes' poem "What Happens To A Dream Deferred?." The gently progressing rumble of "desire," theatrically explodes in time, and Royston captures the essence of Jones' playing on his original "intO ElVin." "Jack, fIgHt oR FligHT" and "s'TRopHy" are robust and authoritative pieces.
Royston is a first-call drummer and has performed/recorded with Jon Irabagon
, Greg Osby
, Tia Fuller
, Ravi Coltrane
, Bruce Barth
, Tom Harrell
, Bill Frisell, David Gilmore
, Dr. Lonnie Smith
, Don Byron
, Jenny Scheinmenn and many other top tier jazz artists. Despite that, he isn't as well known as he should be. PaNOptic
is imaginative and engaging, and Roystan reveals an extraordinary ability to evocatively transpose jazz idioms to the solo drum kit.
BlaCkBad CoMPAny—BiRd; bLUes; ciTy buS StOp; deferred; desire; foolish; intO ElVin; BilL; Jack, fIgHt oR FligHT; maXX; video; oWhNet; s'TRopHy; come; I'm Coming Home; MOTHER KELLY and the preacher part 1; mother kelly and THE PREACHER part 2; sermon; mr zoot suitebruh Arnold; oNe SnaP fIngER; PaNOptic; pANt 1; pANt 2; pop LOVE soNg (prinS-esh); We Real Cool.
Rudy Royston: cymbals, voice.