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Rudder: Evolving Their Groove

Cicily Janus By

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Even when you take the most simplistic grooves and expand them you can get a transcendental experience. —Henry Hey
Unleashing their heavily rooted and pedigreed vine upon the jazz world, Rudder has succeeded in blurring genre lines with their irresistible groove. This NYC-based foursome with Henry Hey on Keyboards, Tim Lefevbre on Bass, Keith Carlock on Drums and Chris Cheek on Sax has continued throughout the past years to scale the wall of success in both the jazz and jam-band scenes. Their new release, Matorning, released in April through Nineteen-Eight Records promises more of their intelligent, head-knocking originality. Matorning is about group and groove evolution. A culmination of more than two decades of getting to know one another as friends and musicians rings throughout this recording. Lefevbre says, "we've gotten into each other's heads and grown together as a group."

Since 1999, Rudder has dedicated themselves to an honest, out-of-the-box band model. Their first and self-titled album yielded a substantial underground following with tunes such as sk8 and Stablemaster. Appealing across both generational and genre gaps with their slamming vibe, festival circuits from Monterey to Brazil have taken notice. They've kept their voice as a group throughout all this time and it shows. Carlock, who's played with, quite literally, the biggest names in the business such as Sting and Steely Dan says that, "When you're playing with people you can connect with it helps. But, if you're playing as a sideman and you try to change what you're doing all the time, it's never going to be as good as it can be. I'm passionate about what I do and this group is about being a risk taker and being confident without being arrogant." Cheek laughs and adds, "Playing with this band feels like a relief, we all have a really good sense of humor about the music and we have a way to make things work, whatever the tune is."

Expanding upon a simple beat or vibration, they allow their energy to swallow the moment rather than a slight chewing of the old school fusion or funk scene. "Even when you take the most simplistic grooves and expand them you can get a transcendental experience. Sometimes we just let the tape go and take the time to experiment and not feel rushed." according to Hey. As a band, they push their audience to a place where they're dancing, and in the moment, enjoying themselves almost as much as the band enjoys playing. This is all developed thoroughly with the basic concept of music that just feels good. "We're not concerned with it being too brainy, that's not our focus. This music is about having people connect with it right away." according to Carlock.

Matorning is a rite of passage into the sonic boom jam scene. It's predecessor self-titled album, although still going strong, isn't nearly the experience of the new one. Hey says, "The new album is more representative of our live sound. Although the first was recorded over several years, this album took place over a few months in 2008. We've grown and evolved as a band and this is a reflection of that evolution. Our individuality comes from an actual sound texture we create together on stage. It's this concept of group texture rather than soloists "blowing." And while there are solos in the music, a lot of the sonic atmosphere is continual band interplay and group sound creation. We write our music with the band in mind and allow things to just happen." Many who approach music with a traditional approach should take note, it's this attitude that proves that it's the innovators not the imitators who will always succeed.


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