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Roswell Rudd: Trombone Tribe

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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The trombone is perhaps the only brass instrument that can—if well played—capture a devastating array of human emotions. It can be made to wail plaintively and growl menacingly. It can be played to sing and make extraordinary leaps of joy, even evoke hallelujahs and other spiritual epiphanies with breathtaking abandon. But it must be played with mastery and few do so better than Roswell Rudd, a musician and instrumentalist who consistently describes the sorrows and joys of human existence every time he picks up his trombone and plays. Moreover, every time Rudd plays he appears to connect the metaphorical dots of musical history—not merely in the idiom of jazz, but even beyond that from the world of so-called classical music.



It appears that music flows through Rudd, coursing through his veins and flowering his breath as it twists through the 14 feet of brass tubing and out that bell at the end of his chosen instrument. On Trombone Tribe, Roswell Rudd is, once again, on top of his game. He has created a series of songs that traverse myriad geographies, bubbling over through the soul of the vast human Diaspora—from Africa—as in "Fanfare," that is crafted and performed with unforgettable passion by the Gangbe Brass Band, to New Orleans in the minor march, "Hulla Gulla" and back again in the spacey, orbital "Bone Again With Bonerama."



His stellar romps—through guttural yowls and growls—in "Astro Slyde," "Sand In My Slide Shuffle," and "Slide and the Family Bone" are impossible to listen to without the irrepressible urge to leap up and dance. "Elton Dean," the sketch of the fabled English trombonist, breaks fresh ground in the realm of jazz odes. "Twelve Bars with Sexmob" is a wildly funny and magnificent exchange with an exciting group of musicians who push the envelope in funky territory. And the suite, "A Place Above" revisits the vibrant praise and worship that can only be found in the unabashed and total communion of an African church.

Rudd would be the first to deflect attention from himself and allow the stellar cast of musicians to bask in the bright glory of Trombone Tribe, and justifiably so. "Bonerama" is a case in point, where the empathetic exchanges between the trombones, drums and guitar are almost telepathic, as is the work of almost every other musician grouping in the record, be it Ray Anderson, Wycliffe Gordon, Eddie Bert, Josh Roseman and others on "Astro Slyde" and "Hulla Gulla," or Rudd, Deborah Weisz and Steve Swell with bassist Henry Grimes' unparalleled arco break on "Sand In My Slide Shuffle" and tubaist Bob Stewart and drummer Barry Altschul on "No End" and "To The Day." Here is music that is memorable for its almost passacaglia-like quality and its humor as well. It appears that Roswell Rudd can, once again, do no wrong with song and dance that carries the delightful weight of musical history.


Track Listing: Fan Fare; Elton Dean; Astro Slyde; Hulla Gulla; No End; Bone Again with Bonerama; To The Day; Sand In My Slide Shuffle; Slide And The Family Bone; Twelve Bars With Sexmob; A Place Above: Introduction into Skyward Theme, Instrumental Doxology, Vocal Doxology, Modal Improvisation and Fan Fare.

Personnel: Martial Ahouandjinou: trombone (1, 11-15); Magloire Ahouandjinou: trumpet (1, 11-15); James Vodounnon: tuba (1, 11-15); Lucien Gbaguidi: saxophone (1, 11-15); Benoit Avihoue: percussion (1, 11-15); Crespin Kpitiki: percussion (1, 11-15); Eric Yovogan: trumpet (1, 11-15); Roswell Rudd: trombone (2-10); Deborah Weisz: trombone (2, 5, 7-9) Steve Swell: trombone (2, 5, 7-9); Henry Grimes: bass and violin (2, 5, 7-9); Bob Stewart: tuba (2, 5, 7-9); Barry Altschul: drums (2-5, 7-9); Ray Anderson: trombone (3, 4); Eddie Bert: trombone (3, 4); Sam Burtis: trombone (3, 4); Wycliffe Gordon: trombone (3, 4); Josh Roseman: trombone (3, 4); Mark Mullins: trombone (6); Steve Souter: trombone (6); Craig Klein: trombone (6); Greg Hicks: trombone (6); Eric Bolivar (6): drums; Matt Perrine: sousaphone (6); Bert Cotton: electric guitar (6); Roswell Rudd: trombone; Steve Bernstein, slide trumpet (10); Doug Wieselman: clarinet (10); Briggan Krauss: alto saxophone (10); Marcus Rojas: tuba (10); Tony Scherr: bass (10); Kenny Wollesen: drums (10).

Title: Trombone Tribe | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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