4

Paul Rutherford: The Conscience

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Paul Rutherford: The Conscience
Recorded in 1999, but previously unissued, The Conscience unites iconoclastic English trombonist Paul Rutherford and Japanese drummer Sabu Toyozumi. It constitutes the first in a series of ten or so sessions from the Japanese Chap Chap label to be released by the Lithuanian NoBusiness imprint through to 2018. Both men were among the first generation of free improvisers in their respective countries. Although Rutherford died in 2007, Toyozumi remains active. Over the years he has played with just about everyone on the scene, appearing on record with Anthony Braxton, Joseph Jarman, John Zorn, Peter Brötzmann and Derek Bailey, and he was the first non-American to join Chicago's AACM.

But somehow the disc doesn't really live up to the promise of that backstory. Perhaps that's partly down to the slight echoey ambience which (together with a mobile phone ringing distantly during the first cut) suggests an audience recording. That makes a difference when nuance and detail are so important to the appreciation of this music. More pertinent is the lack of apparent dialogue. Although each seems comfortable doing what they do, it often evokes simultaneous parallel streams rather than partnership. However this get-together came a year after another album featuring the pair -Fragrance (self released, 2000) -collected from three separate dates. So it's obviously not a one off, and the artists saw enough merit with the performances to justify repeated encounters.

Rutherford negotiates a subtle but radical path. He just about invented the solo trombone oeuvre (not forgetting George Lewis of course) with Discreet Harm of the Bourgeoisie (Emanem, 1975) and pioneered lots of exciting extended techniques which are now part of every adventurous trombonist's armory. They are much in evidence here as his abstract melodicism and burnished sound also incorporate long buzzing lines, astonishingly nimble leaps into the upper registers and growling multiphonics.

Toyozumi tends to be more bombastic, at times channeling the forthright rumbling power of traditional taiko drumming. He frequently favors reiterated figures but doesn't try to keep time or set a beat, instead creating light amid the thunderous shade through the tone color play of clanging gongs and sizzling cymbals. Even though shown behind a conventional jazz trapset in the accompanying booklet, he progresses through a chain of individual events, avoiding multiple rhythms, begetting a fitful energy.

Nonetheless there is at least an occasional meeting of minds in terms of dynamics. On "Beer, Beer and Beer" a passage of galloping locomotive propulsion prompts Rutherford to phrase in tandem, while "I Miss My Pet Rakkyo" gets closest to the conversational in the give and take at the conclusion. Although the session might appeal to fans of either man, it seems unlikely to grab the uninitiated. Perhaps as with much free improvised music, you had to be there.

The first four tracks are also available as a limited edition LP.

Track Listing

The Conscience; Beer, Beer and Beer; Dear Ho Chi Mihn; I Miss My Pet Rakkyo; Song for Sadamu Hisada

Personnel

Paul Rutherford: trombone; Sabu Toyozumi: drums.

Album information

Title: The Conscience | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read West Meets East
West Meets East
Adam Shulman Septet
Read Fela's First
Fela's First
Fela Ransome Kuti & His Highlife Rakers
Read The Rise Up
The Rise Up
Mehmet Ali Sanlikol
Read New York Moment
New York Moment
JC Hopkins Biggish Band

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.