By Matt Micucci
A remarkable lineup of great musicians will turn out on Nov. 15 to honor trombone master Roswell Rudd on his 80th birthday in an event entitled The Wizard of Roz. The celebration will kick off at 4:00 PM at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St, New York, NY).
Singer Heather Masse, Cajun band BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, art cabaret Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra, trumpeter Steven Bernstein, vocalist Fay Victor, and the powerhouse brass ensemble Trombone Tribe are among the long-time friends and collaborators celebrating legendary trombonist Roswell Rudd.
And Rudd himself, or, as he liked to be known, “The Incredible Honk” is set to be joining them onstage for every part of the set. As producer Verna Gillis says “He is so in his sound and in his body right now. It’s still about the music and who he is as he turns 80.”
Roswell Rudd has been displaying his unique musicianship since the fifties. His beginnings were marked by boisterous trad jazz and dixieland, a period in which he made a name for himself as part of a celebrated sextet known as Eli’s Chosen Six, that even went on to record an album for Columbia in 1957.
However, by the sixties, he was already showing a leniance towards experimentation and avant-garde music, which led him to free jazz territory. Beginning with his collaborations with the legendary Cecil Taylor, the first of which came in 1961 with the album New York City R&B (1961), over the course of this decade and the next he was featured in some key free jazz recordings of such artists as Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri and Pharoah Sanders to name but a few.
Throughout his career, he even defied geographical boundaries through frequent vistits to the African nation of Mali. These visits resulted in his celebrated 2001 album MALIcool, a cross-cultural collaboration with kora player Toumani Diabaté. It was the first time ever that a trombone had been featured in a recording of Malian traditional music.
The exciting journey of his career, through different styles and influences from different parts of the world, is represented in the lineup that will be appearing at Le Poisson Rouge on Nov. 15, which will provide “The Incredible Honk” with an opportunity to express his tremendous skills and versatility.