Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie

Paul Rutherford

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Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie Review

by Fran├žois Couture

When The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie was first released in 1976, solo trombone albums were very few, let alone free improv ones! If you happened to hear it, you were immediately struck by Paul Rutherford's originality and virtuosity. The album passed the test of time: it is as exciting today, now that the instrument has a few more adepts, such as Konrad Bauer, Sebi Tramontana, and Tom Walsh to name only a few. This album features one man, one trombone and a few mutes. There are no electronics involved. What makes it so impressive is the fact that Rutherford never falls into the pit of extended techniques demonstration. These short-to-medium-length improvs show a huge level of integration of these techniques -- there are not "tricks" anymore, but a way of life. The trombonist follows his own agenda, constantly choosing the direction the listener didn't think of, slipping from one approach to the next, adding colors and even a bit of humor, something inevitable with an instrument that has a reputation to be funny. On "The Funny Side of Discreet" Rutherford plays around with mutes, extending the vocabulary of circus jokes, so to speak. Yet, on "Osirac Senol" he gets mournful, verging on the sublime, before building up to an explosion. Any trombone student should hear this: the speed, precision, rollercoaster-like inventiveness, ability to touch, surprise, or even shock. It's all in here, feeling so natural you wonder how anyone could play differently. The original LP culled material from three separate concerts all recorded in 1974. The CD reissue adds an extra track from the same sessions. For free improv fans, this one is a must-have; for trombonists, it ranks as a classic.

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