Tag Archives: Charles Rumback

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

CHARLES RUMBACK – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Drummer Charles Rumback’s music is informed by a mild detachment that over the 49 minutes of this CD translates into a kind of gently impassive mood. This makes me picture an extremely controlled person who would not react badly even if someone came and hammered his big toe. The quartet, which features bassist Jason Ajemian and saxophonists Joshua Sclar (tenor) and Greg Ward (alto), moves elegantly and effortlessly, a sluggishly meditative observation of the outside world from an attic’s window. The parallel reeds leave lots of spaces to drums and bass, not only to sustain and dictate the pace but also for having a go in the thematic propositions. Slow swing or sparse pulse belong to the main rules’ list, the musicians looking both pensive and totally unflustered. It’s a bit of a mystery. I detect a lack of significant action: no bloodshed, no trace of sufferance whatsoever. Still, one can’t really say that the record is not agreeable. The decisive factor might reside in the group’s ability in maintaining a cool atmosphere, a late-night reflection deprived of several of the commonplaces typically coupled with this sort of pensiveness. All things considered, this is nothing but an unspectacularly polite jazz album.
http://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/charles-rumback-%e2%80%93-two-kinds-of-art-thieves/

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Paris Transatlantic review by Clifford Allen

Charles Rumback – Two kinds of Art Thieves  (CF 152)
There has long been an interesting cross-pollination between Chicago’s younger jazz and improvising musicians and the “post-rock” scene that developed in the early 1990s, out of bands like Tortoise and The Sea and Cake. Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label has hosted releases from Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground projects and Exploding Star Orchestra (one of which was a collaboration with trumpeter-composer Bill Dixon), as well as veterans Fred Anderson and drummer Robert Barry. Stalwart Chi-town blues and jazz label Delmark has, likewise, released the music of Mazurek and Tortoise’s Jeff Parker alongside more strictly “jazz” young lions. Less well-known than some of his peers, percussionist Charles Rumback (originally from Wichita, Kansas) is one of the busiest avant-rock sidemen in the area, playing with L’altra, Via Tania, and the ambient-improvisation duo Colorlist; Two Kinds of Art Thieves is his debut as a leader.
One might expect the gauzy, filmic textures of Colorlist to work their way into Rumback’s quartet music, so it’s somewhat surprising that Art Thieves is decidedly a jazz record, though the emphasis is on spare group improvisation. Rumback is joined here by alto saxophonist Greg Ward and tenorman Josh Sclar (and for two tracks, bassist Jason Ajemian) on six original compositions. Ten years ago, when Rumback was based in Lawrence, Kansas, his approach showed the influence of such diverse but equally intense sources as Brian Blade, Ben Perowsky and Han Bennink. The antics of bash have given way to a disappearing act, the drummer making laconic use of brushes and sleigh-bells, continually piling up economies around dovetailing alto and tenor. Sclar and Ward are an updated, free-time analogue to Warne Marsh and Gary Foster, cotton purrs and squeals merging into a singular voice. On “Manifesto,” gooey long tones from Ajemian’s bass bolster the pair as Rumback knits the air with mallets and bells. “Four Ruminations” merges slinky repetition in a dark groove behind the saxophonists’ unkempt keening, Ward’s alto rising quickly out of the ambience to chortle and declaim. One couldn’t ask for a stronger debut, and Two Kinds of Art Thieves is a welcome addition to the landscape of young Chicago improvisation.–
http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2009/12dec_text.html#8

Point of Deaparture review by Art Lange

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Ambient jazz? Post-prog-improv? Not to suggest that Chicago-based drummer Charles Rumback and cohorts have devised a new genre, but there’s a curious stylistic vibe at play here, part gravitational pull and part tectonic drift, that defies the usual categories. Four of the six pieces are credited to Rumback – a youthful veteran of electronica duos, fantasy-folk-rock co-ops, and free jazz forays – but nothing seems crafted or arranged; if anything, simple strategies for spontaneous give-and-take result in an equality of ensemble responsibility. Don’t expect head-and-solo “songs” (as the composer credit calls them) – instead, Rumback and saxophonists Greg Ward (alto) and Joshua Sclar (tenor) construct crossfire schemes in arcs of flowing counterpoint. Sclar and Ward are insistently complementary rather than confrontational (more in the mode of a mellow Marsh and Konitz than an excitable Ammons and Stitt, while sounding nothing at all like either pair), and though over the course of a gradual crescendo may grow briefly agitated (as in the opening “Ice Factory”) inevitably return to a calm, casual, albeit quizzical, demeanor. “Four Ruminations” epitomizes their relationship; as Sclar sets down a snaky ostinato, Ward squalls above, then they switch roles. The prevalent mood is one of tempered lyricism, so the drama that emerges comes from their reciprocity; Rumback is prone to understatement –sustained rolling patterns and nuanced accents – and bassist Jason Ajemian limits himself to harmonic grounding in his sporadic appearances. If, on occasion, it seems as if they are a bit overly cautious, chalk it up to generational preference. Some new influences are at work here.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD26/PoD26MoreMoments4.html

All About Jazz Italy review by Enrico Bettinello

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Che la scena creativa di Chicago sia ricchissima di talento è un fatto piuttosto risaputo, anche se non va dimenticato che da sempre la Windy City ha trovato anche in giornalisti, associazioni e etichette di tutto il mondo un’attenzione sempre viva: ne è un esempio questo disco della portoghese Clean Feed a nome del batterista Charles Rumback [componente della Lightbox Orchestra di Fred Longberg-Holm], musicista che in questa prima prova da leader ha voluto con sé – in una tipica conformazione a due sassofoni e senza strumento armonico – l’altrettanto sconosciuto Joshua Sclar al tenore e due promesse ormai affermate come l’altista Greg Ward e il contrabbassista Jason Ajemian.

Le sei composizioni del disco esplorano differenti mood e interazioni collettive, ma con una certa propensione all’astrazione che si affida troppo alla sensibilità dei singoli componenti e sembra invece un po’ meno consistente dal punto di vista dell’efficacia espressiva. Non è tanto la mancanza di temi significativi, quanto piuttosto una sorta di continuo vagare esecutivo la cosa che rende il disco meno interessante di quanto potrebbe: i musicisti sono in sintonia [Ward in particolare ha sempre uno sguardo armonico lucido e tagliente] ma il lavoro non ci sembra troppo coinvolgente e non ha l’immediatezza che può avere – tanto per rifarsi a un esempio molto vicino – il quartetto di Mike Reed.

La profonda sintesi dei tanti elementi in gioco [le tradizioni cui Rumback fa riferimento sono chiaramente molte e complesse] viene giocata infatti sul piano di una sensibilità coloristica e angolosa che rimane come sospesa sopra le inquietudini del presente. Non se ne lascia toccare se non dentro una cornice artistica definita e poco immediata e questo, nel mare delle uscite discografiche e web, rischia di non centrare l’obbiettivo.
Comunque una buona band.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=4587

Gapplegate review by Grego Edwards

Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)

Drummer Charles Rumback and his Freely Mellow Quartet
Charles Rumback has a new quartet recording out on CD called, interestingly enough, Two Kinds of Art Thieves (Clean Feed). He is joined for this session by Jason Ajemian on bass, Joshua Sclar on tenor sax and Greg Ward on the alto.

This is free improvisation of a decidedly vital yet introspective nature. The two sax interplay of Ward and Sclar is quite interesting and effective. They work together well; the two weave lines in tandem in ways that show they are keenly listening to one another and responding in kind.

This is not music that overwhelms with its intensity, nor is it meant to be. What it does do is create an atmosphere of somewhat somber, sensitive group music making. It will not overawe you. But if you approach it on its own terms it will offer a world of meditative improvisation that many will find quite attractive.
http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com/

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds of Art Thieves (CF 152)
El batería de Chicago Charles Rumback ha publicado Two Kinds of Art Thieves acompañado por el contrabajista Jason Ajemian, y los saxofonistas Joshua Sclar y Greg Ward. Tal y como ocurre con sus carreras, la música de este estreno discográfico recoge referencias ajenas al jazz tan variadas como el post-rock y la electrónica. Aunque la formación de dos saxos, contrabajo y batería pudiera invocar otro tipo de propuestas, la música de Charles Rumback tiene un carácter impresionista en la que los músicos juegan con unos elementos que aunque en algún momento pudieran parecer insignificantes (por su volumen, por su expresividad), se transforman en los protagonisas centrales de una música llena de detalles construidos a partir de unos componentes mínimos. Otra joya más a añadir al catálogo de Clean Feed. http://www.tomajazz.com/bun/2009/11/charles-rumback-two-kinds-of-art.html

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

Clean Feed Records eat the plate 
Clean Feed records, founded in 2001, has been the most prolific and adventurous label for jazz this new century. Based in Lisbon, Portugal their offerings have included many of jazz’s old guard including reed players Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Charles Gayle, Vinny Golia and Anthony Braxton and trumpeters Dennis Gonzalez and Herb Robertson, along with current innovators bassist Joe Morris and reed players Ken Vandermark, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Tony Malaby, to name just a few.

Clean Feed’s reach seemingly has no bounds, featuring the greatest players alongside new names in jazz. As with the Blue Note or Impulse! jazz labels of the 1960s, listeners can be assured a consistent presentation of high quality music no matter if the name on the album cover is familiar or not.

CF 150Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got To Change (CF 150)
Saxophonist Marty Ehrlich has been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene for decades. He founded the Dark Woods Ensemble and has recorded with everyone from pianist Andrew Hill to saxophonists John Zorn and Ehrlich’s hero, saxophonist Julius Hemphill. Of late, he has been producing long thematic works. This quartet session is a bit of a change, a variety of shorter pieces that delight the ears with crisp solos and swinging interplay.

The cast includes familiar and distinctive players negotiating five tracks by Ehrlich and three from Hemphill. Hemphill’s compositions are joyfully produced, with the semi-classic “Dogon A.D.” acting as the anchor here. The band, solidified behind drummer Pheeroan AkLaff who negotiates the bluesy piece as a bouncy vehicle for each solo. Ehlrich’s coughing alto aligns with Eric Friedlander’s cello in syncopation to the beats. Elsewhere, the cello offers that slightly different (from a bass) feel on the track “On The One,” that makes this music feel as if it has a mind to be a chamber ensemble, but with the recklessness of a nightclub band. Maybe it is the untamed trumpet work of James Zollar that keeps the music real. This is one of those special recordings that begs for more.

CF 151Samuel Blaser – Pieces Of The Old Sky (CF 151)
Swiss-born, New York-trained Berlin resident trombonist Samuel Blaser begins his Clean Feed debut with a 17-minute meditation by his quartet of Todd Neufeld (guitar), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). The dreamlike and ponderous pace acts as a slow motion series of features for brooding trombone and guitar. Likewise, “Madala” stirs emotions by way of its deliberateness and pace-building for tension. Sorey is the suitable choice for the drum seat. He has developed a knack for playing that is beyond jazz, using his kit as a frontline player. Both “Red Hook” and “Speed Game” up the ante, elevating the pace and forcing a bit more tension into the music. Blaser responds with shorter thoughts and tighter solos, but those flowing notes remain.

CF 157Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day (CF 157)
Canadian-born drummer Harris Eisenstadt is quickly becoming known as a modern jazz composer/arranger to watch. His work is thoroughly modern, with elements of West African drumming. His music is reminiscent of the innovations saxophonist Wayne Shorter was introducing in the 1960s on Blue Note. His Quintet Canada Day concentrates on group improvisation, forwarding the individual sounds of saxophonist Matt Bauder, vibraphonist Chris Dingman, trumpeter Nate Wooley and bassist Eivind Opsvik to bear on these eight compositions.

The quintet negotiates the drummer’s penchant to change time and rhythmic patterns within a song while maintaining the groove. “Everyday Is Canada Day” begins with dreamy vibes before the band enters, building the song from a simple platform. Wooley’s trumpet solo bumps against the vibes with its temerity and coarseness. Eisenstadt is blending sounds here to great effect, as he does on “After An Outdoor Bath.” He never seems to forget the pleasures of listening when he is making music.

CF 159Nobuyasu Furuya – Bendowa (CF 159)
Lisbon-based saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya takes a walk around with the saxophone masters of energy jazz: Peter Brotzmann, Frank Lowe and Roscoe Mitchell. Bendowa might have been mistaken for an early AACM recording. The Japanese-born reedsman and flutist plays here in a Portuguese trio with Gabriel Ferrandini (drums) and Hernani Faustino (bass). While the music pushes the outer edge, it never breaks down into a noise-fest. The steady groove of Ferrandini and Faustino allow for Furuya to apply his craft. His tenor on “Track 1” splats big strokes of paint all over the canvas, while “Track 2” finds him playing more traditional sounds (Japanese?) on his flute. The aggressive bass clarinet notes heard on “Track 5” float and dive into the rolling maelstrom of bass and drum animation. This is free jazz, coming from a classically trained reedsman. Maybe this new “new thing” music is the best thing to come from globalization.

CF 155Ze Eduardo Unit – Jazz Ar: Live At Capuchos (CF 155)
A mover and shaker in the Portuguese jazz scene for decades, the bassist Ze Eduardo would be comfortable playing with Han Bennink and the ICP Orchestra, Roy Nathanson’s Jazz Passengers or Steven Bernstein’s Millennium Orchestra. His brand of jazz doesn’t skip humor as an element of the music, and the audience responds affirmatively on this October 2008 live date. His trio, or unit, is composed of tenor saxophonist Jesus Santandreu and drummer Bruno Perdroso, both heard on the previous release A Jazzar no Zeca: A Musica de Jose Afonso (Clean Feed, 2004).

Don’t get the wrong impression, this is serious music making. The band just loves what they do. Their take on “The Simpsons” theme is in no way camp. The band lays down a solid groove, phrasing the familiar cartoon theme here as they do with other cartoons characters here. Their “serious” music includes the coughing interludes on “Abelha Maia” that never miss a beat between bits and pieces of “Santa Lucia.” This agreeable recording is music making at the highest level, it just happens to be very jocular.

CF 156Pinton / Kullhammar / Zetterberg / Nordstrom – Chant (CF 156)
From Sweden comes a quartet of improvisors that were assembled for a series of concerts and this recording. All four have played together in various ensembles, but this combination, a “power” ensemble, displays a tenacity that yields special results. The musicians are saxophonists Alberto Pinton and Jonas Kullhammar, bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg and drummer Kjell Nordeson. The piano-less quartet effects a harmonious sound from the baritone and tenor combination on the majority of tracks. Pinton and Kullhammar make this a friendly competition for space and solos, exercising sonic demons on “Chantpagne,” as the timekeepers Zetterberg and Nordeson keep the pulse and intensity level quite high. The possibilities for this music are boundless. The pliant dueling baritones march to “Den Stora Vantan” while all the music making is done by the drummer.

The obvious homage here, “Cross/For Bluiett,” has saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett’s outward jazz vision in mind as it sails a chamber blues into the audience’s ears. The band ends with “Mount Everest,” a direct reference to the Swedish free jazz band of the same name whose passion for saxophonists Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman are shared by our heroes. The wow-factor is increased with every track heard on this excellent disc.

CF 158Julio Resende – Assim Falava Jazzatustra (CF 158)
The unforgettable pianist Julio Resende performs this live set in Lisbon with his band and a few special guests. Assim Falava Jazzatustra follows his 2007 release Da Alma (Clean Feed). Here he summons a quartet with the notable Spanish saxophonist Perico Sambeat and the most excellent Swedish bassist Ole Morten Vagan. The music is a blend of rhythmic and percussive jazz that is instantly agreeable. Resende’s piano can at times give off the Cuban vibe, as on “Perico Sambeat,” or a classical sound, as on “Ir F Voltar.” On the latter track the band is joined by vocalist Manuela Azevedo from the pop band Cla. The band’s rocked-out take on “Boom!” finds Resende’s piano ringing bell-like throughout. He plies the keyboard with such a predatory feel here. In contrast, his cover of the Pink Floyd song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is elegant and sanguine as he negotiates the nostalgic piece. Worth the price of admission to that concert, his rendering of that classic song is priceless.

CF 152Charles Rumback – Two Kinds Of Art Thieves (CF 152)
Chicago drummer Charles Rumback leads a quartet of like minded musicians on a very introspective album. Rumback is a member of bands varying from post-rock to electronica, including Colorlist, The Horse’s Ha and Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Lightbox Orchestra. Here he employs bassist Jason Ajemian (Dragons 1976, Rob Mazurek, Bill Dixon), tenor saxophonist Greg Ward (Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly, People Places & Things) and alto saxophonist Joshua Sclar (Westport Art Ensemble). The music is characterised by paced, even-keeled, small gestures of sound. Often Rumback is playing quiet fingers on his drums while the saxophonists whisper notes in exchanges that are more late-night conversation than trading fours. The music, thoroughly composed, prefers to make its case with quiet gesticulation and soft melody. The slightest sound makes a large impact here. An impressive debut.

CF 154Weightless – A Brush With Dignity (CF 154)
These live dates from October 2008 in Germany mark the coming together of UK artistsJohn Butcher (saxophones) and John Edwards (bass) and Italians Alberto Braida (piano) and Fabrizio Spera (drums). All four had played together in varying combinations before, but the Weightless tour of Italy and Germany was their first as a complete unit. The natural combination of saxophone, piano, bass and drums gives listeners an accustomed lineup, but the music making (as you might not be surprised) is far from traditional.

The disc opens with “Apre,” a stellar piece of energy jazz that builds momentum as the players trade off duos and solos. What is remarkable here is the distribution of sound. A mark of seasoned players, the music is never crowded: all parts are distinctive and can be set apart in listener’s ears. Quite the feat for instantly composed music. The remaining tracks settle into an agreeable sense of interplay. Butcher is more inclined towards his extended techniques and the others follow suit. As with all free music, different parts are compelling for different listeners. The live (in concert) experience is quite unlike that of the recorded listen. That said this is a fine recorded listening experience.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=34444