A distinguished trombonist, ethnomusicologist, and educator, Rudd was one of the first non-bop players to get behind Monk's songbook in the early '60s when he joined a precedent-setting band led by the renowned saxophonist Steve Lacy, widely considered to be the Monk interpreter. After Lacy's passing a couple of years ago, Rudd, at 69, is now the preeminent torch bearer. So his appearance with the respected yet relatively unknown Bay Area combo Monk's Music Trio (pianist Si Perkoff, drummer Chuck Bernstein, and bassist Sam Bevan) is worthy of notice.
Rudd and the trio's approach to Monk's labyrinthine compositions is duly exploratory. The band digs into snaky melodies, jagged rhythms, and timbral nuances not to arrive at an expected place but to discover the mysteries that emerge along the way. The trombonist, in particular, brings an apt sauciness to his performance, evoking the trademark wit, wisdom, and audacity of one of jazz's authentic enduring legends.