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.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more