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Roswell Rudd/Jamie Saft/Trevor Dunn/Balazs Pandi: Strength & Power

C. Michael Bailey By

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Octogenarian Roswell Rudd just released a frighteningly traditional recording with vocalist Heather Masse on the brilliant August Love Song (Red House, 2016). But that is not what he is most known for. Rudd has been a jazz freedom fighter who made his bones in the 1960s, when Rudd collaborated with free jazz functionaries: New York Art Quartet; the Michael Mantler & Carla Bley 1968 Jazz Composer, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Larry Coryell and Gato Barbieri. Foremost in his career has been Rudd's friendship and association with saxophonists Archie Shepp and Steve Lacy, the latter highlighted on the pair's numerous recordings and performances of the music of Thelonious Monk.

Rudd joins RareNoise stalwarts, Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn, and Balazs Pandi for an acoustic throwback to the beginning of free jazz. The result is something vastly more listenable than any late John Coltrane and even Ornette Coleman's landmark Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet (Atlantic, 2961). I long ago gave up trying to understand the whole of free jazz, opting to appreciate the many microcosms making it up.

Rudd's technical prowess remains fully intact, reflecting his well over 60 years as a performing musician. His trombone effects: growls, slurs, glissandos, and other anthropomorphic sounds blend perfectly with the nearly unhinged chaos loosed by pianist Jamie Saft. Saft is mostly well behaved, a mere shadow of the iconoclasm demonstrated on his electric recordings: I will cite just his work with Slobber Pup (Black Aces (Rare Noise, 2013) and Pole Axe (Rare Noise, 2015), just one of Saft's many projects.

Bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Balazs Pandi round out this wonderful acoustic quartet who easily demonstrate the sonic power and entropy of free jazz from the origin. While this recording does not seem so ground-breaking by today's atomized standards, it nevertheless, points its telescope lens into that universe created by Coleman in the beginning.

Track Listing: Strength & Power; Cobalt Is Divine; The Bedroom; Luminescent; Dunn's Falls; Struttin' For Jah Jah.

Personnel: Roswell Rudd: trombone; Jamie Saft: piano; Trevor Dunn: acoustic bass; Balazs Pandi: drums.

Title: Strength & Power | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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