Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rudy Royston 303 Greenleaf 2014

Rudy Royston steps out swinging with an auspicious debut sure to make heads turn!
Brent Black /

While 303 happens to be the area code of his Denver hometown, Rudy covers significant ground with a stellar line up of tunes wrapped up in a zen like synergy of less is more. Unlike the human metronome approach used by some of his contemporaries, Rudy Royston can swing as hard as they come or dial it down to allow this delightful ensemble cast explore their own lyrical inventions. While this is a true collective in every sense of the word there are standout performances turned in from saxophonist Jon Irabagon along with preeminent guitarist Nir Felder and another rising star in bassist Mimi Jones.

It would be easy to sing the praises of tunes like "Bownze" where Rudy simply kills it with a swing reminiscent of the great Jeff "Tain" Watts. Jon Irabagon reinforces his critical acclaim with a dynamite performance on "Play On Words" and throughout the release, Nadja Noordhuis turns in exquisite work on trumpet while pianist Sam Harris walks the harmonic tightrope just above bassist Yasushi Nakamura. Bassist Mimi Jones is certainly not to be forgotten as she may be the new hot ticket for bassists. One of the most impressive aspects of 303 would have to include the production work of Royston. There is a new sound creeping into the straight ahead mix, an organic almost ambient warmth that while reminiscent of old Impulse recordings is remarkably contemporary in nature. Rudy Royston is cutting edge and the cover of the Radiohead tune "High and Dry" proves it.  "Ave Verum Corpus" is a deconstructed riff on W.A. Mozart yet just skirts the outside of what many would call Chamber jazz or third-stream. The Royston composition "Mimi Sunrise" seems to set the eclectic table of predictably abstract lyrical flow. The only thing constant is change.

There is no playing it safe on 303. Rudy Royston goes for it and the dividends paid are exponential. 303 is the coming out party for one of the finest half dozen drummers working the scene today.


Tracks: Mimi Sunrise; Pay On Words; Prayer (For The People); Goodnight Kinyah; Gangs of New York; High and Dry; Miles To Go (Sunset Road); 303; Ave Verum Corpus; Brownze; Prayer (For The Earth).

Personnel: Rudy Royston: Drums & Percussion; Jon Irabagon: Saxophones; Nadja Noordhuis: Trumpet; Nir Felder: Guitar; Sam Harris: Piano; Mimi Jones: Bass (1,3,5,7,11); Yasushi Nakamura: Bass.