Boston-based saxophonist and composer Charlie Kohlhase presents a tribute to and showcase for his former teacher and musical hero, Roswell Rudd. Unlike the dozen albums on which Rudd had appeared since his re-emergence in 1994, this session is dedicated exclusively to his compositions. The repertoire offers pieces written over 35 years, including the title piece, originally penned for the New York Art Quartet, and "Something of Yours" from 1998, dedicated to soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. It reflects both musicians' Dixieland roots. As with all Rudd work, this music is autobiographical in nature, tied to specific situations or portraits of relationships. And as with all his work, it is intensely lyrical. Rudd has a way of teasing out traditional-sounding licks, stretching them to a piquant point. His melodies are hummable and often voice-based. In an extension of the tradition of instrumentalists who sing on the side, Rudd vocalizes gruffly on several tracks. Though, as usual, his take on the traditional is idiosyncratic. His rambunctious side comes through on "Tout de Moi," with French lyrics by Paul Haines. It was penned when he was in a Catskills resort show band. "Palmer House Rocking" was inspired by Rudd's stint during his long sojourn out of the spotlight as an employee in a group home for the mentally disabled. The blues gives all hands a chance to jam over a good-natured backbeat. True to Rudd's sprawling intellect, the session also includes songs reflecting his spiritual side. These personal hymns are "Hermes Trizz"; "Emanation," a rare serious Rudd vocal; "Tetraktys," which ends with a group vocal; and "Siva & Sakti." While the trombonist is the most compelling solo voice on the session, everyone else speaks with a distinctive sound, doing justice to the material. The group also is equal to the task of executing the often-tricky ensemble parts. The session concludes with the comic routine "Breaker," a send-up of the plight of talk show bands.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Dupont