Prior to the release of Trombolenium in June 2002, Paul Rutherford's latest album of solo trombone was 1978's Neuph. Considering the strength of his first solo opus (The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie in 1974) and his continuing activity in London free improv circles, a new document was getting overdue. If this CD refreshes the trombonist's discography, it still doesn't put listeners up to date: the pieces presented here were recorded between 1986 and 1995. They are presented in reverse order, starting with two short improvs recorded without an audience. Rutherford's legendary playfulness and his relaxed attitude welcome listeners from the start. Throughout the album the trombonist demonstrates an extensive range of personal techniques that never take over the warmth and lyricism familiar to his music -- a rarity when it comes to this type of demanding listening. He is a delight to hear (although some may argue solo trombone music is an acquired taste), constantly challenging expectations and eschewing clichés. Yet, Trombolenium is not the album one could have wished for. The two tracks from the 1993 Europa Jazz Festival ("First Walnut" and "Second Walnut," for a total duration of 24 minutes) are fantastic solos. Listeners can feel the musician giving it all he's got. The intensity of the second piece, dark and fearsome after the excitement of the first, provides the strongest highlight of the set. The rest of the material falls under the comment "average": interesting but not particularly inspired.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture