The jazz’s universal Roswell Rudd

Photo: Christian Sahm Duos Aschaffenburg, Wikicommon
Roswell Rudd was a researcher at the long courses, a messenger obstinate.

Two months ago, the drummer Ben Riley has died. A month ago, this was the percussionist revolution music Sunny Murray, the producer George Avakian and the legend Jon Hendricks, who all went on to join the big band that runs up there or at the bottom, go figure, Duke Ellington. And lo and behold, just before the Holidays, we learned that the trombonist Roswell Rudd, is no longer part of it. It fucks a blow. And a bad one. Very bad even. Because…


Because Roswell Rudd was much, much more than just a trombonist, or even artist. He was a researcher at the long courses, a messenger obstinate, an alchemist, talented, and courageous. On what ? What ? Music of the world. For twenty years and more, Roswell Rudd was an ethnologist of music. Of the moons during, he was the main collaborator of Alan Lomax, who, after having established the topology of the blues, set out to make the inventory of the music of the world through the system of so-called “cantometrics” and the development of which Rudd took part. Let us, in the natural order, if one may say so, of the things.


Rudd was born on 17 November 1935 in Sharon, Connecticut in a family of teachers. After studies at Yale University, he moved to New York in the late 1950s. It is then a trombone player, well versed in dixieland. Of the antiquity of the jazz, he will jump into the pond of the avant-garde in with both feet. In other words, without having made the slightest judgment in the territory of be-bop.


In the decade that followed, it is quite simple, it will participate in the production headlights of the new wave, that was called then the ” New Thing “. In 1964, he founded the New York Jazz Quartet, and frequently collaborates with poet and playwright Amiri Baraka. He took part in the recording of Four for Trane Archie Shepp, the Liberation Music Orchestra by Charlie Haden and Escalator Over the Hill Carla Bley, various albums by Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, Bill Dixon, in short, the giants of free jazz, of the jazz policy. It will be of all the fights before you join the ranks of the University of Maine, where he taught ethnomusicology for twenty years.


At the end of his journey in the classroom, it will be on the road again concert halls and studios to better make a series of productions masterful best. By what ? With this concern very pronounced that it was the combination of world music with collective improvisation, which distinguished the dixieland.


Blow on blow, he’s going to sign of the disks where the French ballads adjoin to the music of malian and therefore the instruments that characterize the music of the Caribbean, Mongolia, Peru, the Sahara, etc, This devil of a man was not only a trombonist. He was an intellectual activist. In the era of the plague of anti-intellectual, we would like to clarify that Roswell Rudd was a great man. He was and remains the incarnation of the honest man. Ave and especially not amen !


P. S. Suggestion : Trombone Tribe on label Sunnyside Records


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The 12 January at 21 h, the PBS network will broadcast a special show, a tribute dedicated to the singer Tony Bennett. Title : Tony Bennett : The Library of Congress Gershwin Popular Song. Steve Wonder and Wynton Marsalis will be of the party.


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The show of the week : Henri Texier, Louis Sclavis and Aldo Romano at le Triton in Paris.