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ROTTOR: The First Full Turn

Glenn Astarita By

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ROTTOR is: Paul Rutherford (trombone, voice), Julie Tippett (voice, thumb piano), Keith Tippett (piano, bells, maracas) and Paul Rogers (bass). The title cut clocks in at 53 minutes and features some lengthy collective improvisations from these veterans of the British Free Jazz scene. Julie Tippett is the conductor so to speak. Her vocal improvisations tend to direct or spur creative dialogue among her bandmates. Needless to say there is quite a bit going on here. Recorded live at The Europa Jazz Festival du Mans, the ensemble work is sophisticated and generally endearing. ROTTOR is a supergroup of sorts. It’s hard to believe that this is their first recording as a unit.

While also known as a sultry balladeer, Julie Tippett mainly scats throughout and utilizes all registers of her vocal prowess. Pianist Keith Tippett compliments with probing and intuitive motifs supplemented by stinging single note runs. Keith Tippett dances over the keys and serves as the catalyst for bassist Rogers and trombonist Rutherford prompting abstract rhythmic statements while providing the glue that sustains some semblance of order. "The First Full Turn” as the title may implicate, represents an improvised affair that represents circular construction and execution. Themes flow and are restated in similar form yet never sound exactly the same. The 2nd track, “Another Solo Turn” is a live solo performance from trombonist Paul Rutherford. Rutherford is one of the unsung heroes of the trombone and enjoys more recognition in Europe as opposed to the United States. Few can sustain interest with a 12-minute solo trombone composition. Wonderfully recorded, Rutherford shifts moods and displays a wealth of ideas. Rutherford makes every note count.

“ROTTOR” is an aggregate of cutting edge stylists that should be deemed essential listening for advocates of “free and improvised jazz”.


Title: The First Full Turn | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Emanem


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