Roswell Rudd

The Unheard Herbie Nichols, Vol. 2

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This second volume of excavated music from the floodwaters that destroyed much of Nichols' possessions and undocumented compositions still only scratches the surface, but it's an intriguing facade. Rudd is the perfect person to do the digging, being a close personal friend of the late pianist/composer. The context is what's different, it's not a piano trio. Trombone from the effervescent Rudd, guitar by Greg Millar, and drums/vibes courtesy of John Bacon Jr. set these pieces in a different light. Each of these eight compositions stand on their own. "Ina" sports a hip merengue funk and swing with a bold trombone barking out, while the bawdy Rudd growls over an easy New Orleans shuffle swing, raucous but never reckless, during "Old 52nd Street Rag." On the softer side is the free vibes/guitar-based ballad "Strange City," languid vibes and regretful trombone on "Vacation Blues" with small lyric line sung roughly by Rudd, and the straight-ahead, loping guitar-based blues (sans Rudd) "Dream Time." More developed, the near 17-minute "Tee Dum Tee Dee" starts with a buzzing, low register, groaning Rudd over free percussion snaps and swipes, then he evokes spooky ghostly moans and hair-comb hums with muted trombone, merging into a lengthy blues swing section without the mute. A seemingly free, kinetic percussion discourse between Bacon and Millar on "Forest Floor" buoys Rudd's more throaty trombone, curious, status-seeking muted vibes, and vocal band chants. An African percussion style informs "Some Wandering Bushmen" under a one-note ostinato, 5/4 bluesy line with Rudd as inquisitor. Everyone needs to hear more of Herbie Nichols' music, and Rudd as executor makes perfect sense. Perhaps a different instrumental context will be used the next time around, simply for the sake of variety.

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