Paul Rutherford, Julie Tippetts, Keith Tippett and Paul Rogers
Rottor: The First Full Turn (Emanem 4026)
Lol Coxhill, Torsten Muller and Paul Rutherford
Milwaukee 2002 (Emanem 4097)
A NY record waxed by the great Greenwich-born trombonist Paul Rutherford (1940-2007) is going to inspire a review (and not only because he was an inveterate Morning Star reader) because everything he played shone with originality and passionate musicianship as well as virtuosity.
So here are three albums he made for the Emanem label between 1978 and 2002 which radiate all these qualities.
The first is the astonishing Neuph, made in studios in Rome, Pisa, and mid-Wales, which features a solo Rutherford over-dubbing on both trombone and euphonium — except on Paunch and Judies which also involved the howling of the studio dog Judy, who was run over shortly after the Rutherford session and left her canine memorial on the album.
Paul’s trombone is speeded up to double time as Judy wails her vocal to create a duet like no other in all music.
With the overdubbing in Phase 2/2, for example, which sets afoot two trombones and two euphoniums, it is as if horns are coming from everywhere in a sonic maze of brass and on the title track the colloquy between the two instruments is intense and full of wit in a palaver of uncanny unity.
But Rutherford’s true and unique artistry is in fullest and most extraordinary fettle in his solo trombone pieces Roman Tick and Pisa Ear, where his glides, snarls, snorts and all the rainbow sounds of his multi-phonics genius are set loose with preposterous abandon. In 1998 Rutherford was part of a quartet formation called Rottor with Bristolian pianist Keith Tippett, vocalist and thumb pianist Julie Tippetts and Paul Rogers on bass.
They cut an album called The First Full Turn, comprising a 53-minute title track recorded at Le Mas theatre, with the dividend of playing solo trombone in St Giles Church in the City of London’s Cripplegate for another 12 minutes of Another Solo Turn.
The long track is an amalgam or perennial surprise, with Julie’s voice making a world of timbral diversity beside Rutherford’s ever-talking horn.
Tippett strikes his piano strings as well as his keys as he reveals a multiplicity of sounds from the very innards of his piano and Rogers’s bass digs many a sonic tunnel beneath his bandmates’ sounds, at one point providing a deeply echoing subterranean foundation to a blues-sound of one brief Tippett passage, with Julie’s wordless and spectral voice hovering over all, and when Rutherford returns for an almost operatic duet with Julie above Tippetts’s clattering keys, Rogers makes the stage floor pulsate and Paul’s trombone sings with a guffawing beauty.
As for the solo Cripplegate performance, Rutherford, back on the other side of the river of his home city and its square mile of unmeasured wealth and profit, plays with a lonely eloquence, the church’s quivering acoustics giving his untrammelled horn virtual quasi-angelic serenity.
In April 2002 Rutherford joined soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill (more used to busking and troubadouring on the shores of the Thames) and the Hamburg-born bassist Torsten Muller for a concert by the side of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The album, Milwaukee 2002 opens with three long solo performances by the three virtuosi, Rutherford’s lasting for 22 minutes, taking his instrument back to the land of its provenance as a jazz voice with a prime rendition.
The shimmering Coxhill isn’t so bad either both on his own and with the slapping strings of the vibrant Muller, two European siblings of the blues who forge the closest of unions on the track Sax and Bass.
But when Lol and Paul coalesce on the all too brief Sax and Bone and the trio reach their summation on All Three, two continents mesh with fire and sound, and Rutherford’s London home rocks, invents and makes glory in the heart of the United States.