Hans Teuber / Paul Rucker — Oil
(Jackson Street JSR004, 2003, CD)
Paul Rucker — History of an Apology
(Jackson Street JSR005, 2003, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2004-09-01
Like Nels and Alex Cline, Satoko Fujii, and even Henry Threadgill (all with their various ensembles), Paul Rucker produces music that is usually referred to as jazz, but has such far-ranging elements that it enters a netherworld beyond straightforward labeling. Of these two recordings on his own Jackson Street Records, Oil, a duo with saxophonist Hans Teuber on which Rucker plays cello, is closest to being unambiguously jazz in the tradition of other fairly free small-group sessions. The two take their cues from each other, with occasional nods to established compositions (listen for a bit of Gershwin’s “Summertime”), and keep the mood serene, with no bursts of extreme angst or noise.
History of an Apology is quite a step up in size of ensemble, complexity of arrangement, and performance energy. Taking as his inspiration the infamous Tuskegee Experiments, Rucker has written a series of pieces ranging from solo voice to an eleven-piece group featuring violin, sax, trumpet, trombone, vibes, accordion, electric guitar, and percussion in addition to his own bass. He gets help from a revolving cast of guests; Amy Denio, Bill Horist, Julian Priester, Bill Frisell, and Michael White, along with Teuber and others, add their talents at various times. Improvisation is balanced nicely with composition, and moments of scattered multiplicity contrast with moments of serenity and beauty. There are times when a repeating bass line topped by loosely arranged horns reminds me of some of the freer tracks Nucleus recorded in the early 70s, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.