With the passing of Albert Mangelsdorff, the mantle of elder improvising trombonist has passed to Paul Rutherford. Though relative contemporaries and peers, their approach to the trombone, particularly in a solo context, came from distinct directions, if ultimately sharing certain techniques. Mangelsdorff was always concerned with form and melody; Rutherford is more interested in sound. Two albums, one a reissue, the other newly recorded, demonstrate this curiosity but also provide insight into the technological tools available to the improviser over the last few decades.
Neuph, recorded in its original LP form in January 1978 and now augmented with the live tracks from 1980, made use of an old recording standardoverdubbingbut in a such a way as to create a discussion about the role of a solo improviser. Rutherford plays various extemporaneous tunes on as few as one euphonium or as much as four overlayed trombones. The musicianship and experimentation is excellent but what is confounding is that Rutherford is reacting to himself, not in real time, but in a studio, even speeding up certain tracks, to create a soundscape far different than the two live solo trombone tracks that open and close the disc. Some might call it impersonal, but it offers fascinating answers to the questions of how to play solo and how to use available technology to expand the role of a musician.
Iskra3 is a different beast as Rutherford has a more traditional function than on Neuph but utilizes a modern innovationcomputer processingto update what an acoustic instrument, albeit one played in expert hands, can accomplish when its musical counterpart is a machine, though one manipulated by its own duo of improvisors (Robert Jarvis and Lawrence Casserly). Both discs are less about music and more about aural exploration, a dichotomy that Rutherford has embraced his whole career.
Track and Personnel Listings
Tracks: Roman Tick for one trombone; Yep 321 for two euphoniums; Realign 4 for four trombones; Three Levels for three trombones (one double speed); Paunch and Judies for one double speed trombone and dog; Chefor for one euphonium; Phase 2/2 for two trombones and two euphoniums; Neuph for one trombone and one euphonium; Pisa Ear for one trombone.
Personnel: Paul Rutherford: trombone, euphonium.
Tracks: Zenquahn; Ommbuhl; Bodrivar; Falgoric; Brelfor; Felcrum; Mayilcra.
Personnel: Paul Rutherford: trombone; Robert Jarvis, Lawrence Casserley: live computer processing.