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Album Review

Jochen Rueckert: With Best Intentions


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Jochen Rueckert: With Best Intentions
This stellar sixth album from Jochen Rueckert extends on some musical friendships while offering a fresh format and new palette. Having previously delivered his notable Introduction (Lipstick-Jazzline, 1998) some 25 years ago, greased the grooves on an appealing organ trio session with guests, and drawn notice with guitar-driven gusto on several quartet dates, this German-born, New York-based drummer-of-note now shifts focus and finds success with a chordless quintet.  

After developing a renewed interest in more open-ended settings while playing in tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana's trio, and yearning for an opportunity to write for a slightly larger band, Rueckert began planning for a three-horned session while maintaining an awareness that pandemic-pitched curveballs might cancel or delay it.  Then, in the spring of 2022, opportunity struck and the race to complete preparations for live performances and recording was on.  Those time limitations would turn out to be a blessing, forcing the drummer-composer to keep complication in check and driving him to finalize some older material that had never seen the light of day.  This release, with its semi-apologetic and accepting title, nods to those circumstances surrounding its creation while rising above them.

Assembling a multi-national frontline including longtime collaborators like American tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and German trombonist Nils Wogram, and adding a talent deserving greater attention in the form of French-born, Amsterdam-based bass clarinetist Joris Roelofs, Rueckert revels in the opportunity to paint canvases that are complete yet completely open to those personalities in play. And in rounding out the ensemble by welcoming bassist Doug Weiss into the rhythmic fold, he finds a partner who's perfectly capable of anchoring, steering and reflecting his percussive actions.

Kicking things off with "The Dress"—a sly-and-quirky, blues-coated joint supported by some swinging and jostling stick work—the quintet immediately establishes a loose/tight duality that meshes beautifully with Rueckert's writing. That brand of group dynamic carries forward as this outfit moves to a higher gear with the Mario Kart-inspired "Rainbow Road," featuring a standout solo from Wogram and a vamping outro for Rueckert; deals in long tones and straight-eighth substance(s) on "Catholic Mahogany," which spotlights Roelofs and Weiss; brings beauty and tension to the fore on "Unmitigated," a wondrous waltz with Turner in the starring role; and ups the quirk factor with the gloriously gauche "Muetze Glatze," a showcase for the band's bass clarinetist.

As a drummer, Rueckert shines while delivering the requisite drive both early on and in later offerings like "Pherothstorium." But even when he's in a leading stance, he never makes things about himself. Rueckert always remains cognizant of what's truly required of him to make every composition and performance as successful as possible. With the riff-twisting "Mark of the Beast" closer, that's wit and wisdom in rhythmic guidance. In the case of "Double Sensotron," it's a relatively simple form of time-keeping support. And for the absorbing, horn-shaped title track, that means sitting out entirely for the duration. A master musician who sees all of the angles in play and uses them to his advantage, Jochen Rueckert always delivers with best intentions and even better results.  

Track Listing

The Dress; Rainbow Road; Catholic Mahogany; Unmitigated; Muetze Glatze; With Best Intentions; Pherothstorium; Double Sensotron; Mark of the Beast.


Jochen Rueckert: drums; Joris Roelofs: woodwinds; Mark Turner: saxophone, tenor; Nils Wogram: trombone; Doug Weiss: bass, acoustic.

Album information

Title: With Best Intentions | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Colonel Beats

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