While living in New York in the mid-'50s, Rudd played New Orleans-styled trombone, but when the new jazz hit like a hurricane at the end of that decade, Rudd dove into the storm, exploring more adventurous forms with pioneering out-cats Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, and the New York Art Quartet (with Danish saxophonist John Tchicai). His gutsy tone and propulsive energy made a natural bridge between the two stages of jazz, which may have helped introduce the new music to the bewildered audiences of the time.
Opting for the stability of academia instead of the economic vagaries of progressive musicmaking, Rudd went on to pursue a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and discovered the deep-rooted connections between geographically separated musical traditions. He began applying these ideas to his performances, extending his instrumental palette to include trumpet, African thumb piano, metallophone, and other types of percussion.
Now a university professor, Rudd rarely performs live, and records even more infrequently. However, in the past two years the CIMP label did issue a fine pair of trombone-led tributes to his former mentor, underrecognized composer/pianist Herbie Nichols. This Bay Area engagement marks Rudd's first appearance on the West Coast in more than two decades. The concerts will no doubt draw on the full jazz traditions and then some, hoping to link listeners to the world of music through jazz.
-- Sam Prestianni
Roswell Rudd appears with co-leader/saxophonist Rob Scheps in a quartet on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Sweat Shop, 1943 Mission (at 15th Street), S.F. Tickets are $7; call 487-1903. The Rudd/Scheps Quartet performs with special guest saxophonist John Tchicai on Monday, Jan. 18, at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West in Jack London Square, Oakland. Tickets are $8; call (510) 238-9200.