PAUL RUTHERFORD trombone
1 - BERLINTRO - 9:35
2 - BERL IN ZIL - 5:22
3 - A SONG MY GRANNY TAUGHT ME - 7:28
4 - NOT A VERY WONDERFUL BALLAD - 5:45
5 - PRIMUS - 16:20
6 - SECUNDUS - 4:26
7 - TERTIUS - 13:14
8 - QUARTUS - 12:24
All analogue concert recordings made in Berlin by
1 - 4: 1975 March 31
FMP Workshop Freie Musik at Akademie der Künste
5 - 6: 1975 November 7
7 - 8: 1975 November 8
FMP Total Music Meeting at Quartier Latin
Total time 75:15
1 & 3 - 8 previously unissued
2 originally issued in 1978 on “FOR EXAMPLE” FMP 3-LP R123
These recordings were among those that Paul Rutherford had been trying to get issued for several years. I had made enquiries about obtaining them, but sadly the tapes did not materialise until after his untimely death. I have never understood why interest in artists seems to increase after they are no longer around to appreciate it. (Maybe I should kill the musicians on Emanem to boost sales!) Therefore I am somewhat loath to issue this CD at this juncture, in case I give the impression of cashing in on a disturbingly sad event.
However, the music contained herein is so superb that it is crying out to be put into the public domain, rather than continue to languish in the vaults. Until now Rutherford’s masterpiece has generally been considered to be THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE – quite rightly in my opinion (vested interests aside) – but I think this Berlin collection from the following year is at least as good. Hopefully it will help to illustrate why I consider Rutherford (along with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, and a handful of others) to have been one of the greatest innovative and creative instrumentalists.
Everything that can be done with a trombone is here thanks to a free spirit let loose with his imagination. There is fairly conventional playing, at times very fast, but always involving unexpected intervals and a large tonal range. There is the use of mutes (missing from his latter-day performances) and other 'objects' (including a trombone-activated piano on two tracks). There is his way of allowing fluid to accumulate in the slide to create popping noises. And there is the incredible use of his voice to create multi-phonics.
When I was still with my mum and dad, I used to play in front of the mirror just to watch what I was doing, and I had this feeling that you could sing and play at the same time. I used to do that. A little while later someone played me Sequenza V by Berio and they’re doing multi-phonics, singing and playing, and I said I’m doing that already. (PR 2000.)
So it would seem that he discovered how to use his voice independently of the Berio piece. Certainly Albert Mangelsdorff freely admitted that Rutherford inspired his use of multi-phonics. Some years later by the time of these Berlin recordings, Rutherford had developed even further to somehow use his voice and instrument to get as many as four or five things happening simultaneously by splitting notes. However, do not think of this record as being a catalogue of bizarre techniques. It is essentially great, original and innovative music.
This CD contains the three solo performances that he gave in 1975 at the two Berlin festivals organised by FMP. BERL IN ZIL was issued on an FMP sampler and titled by the performer. The titles of the remaining previously unissued pieces have had to be devised without his unique titling capabilities, although those of tracks 3 & 4 are based on his irreverent announcements.
“I think that the great thing about art is that it can enhance people’s life and conception of things. Therefore I don’t believe in making it simple for people. I see musicians and artists as part of the conscience of society, trying to make things a bit better for humanity. This lovely planet is in such a terrible state at the moment. Musicians and artists can help to make it slightly better for people. It doesn’t mean playing them silly songs. That’s what the pop business takes care of – playing them trash. As far as I’m concerned that makes for a dull person because they’re not being stimulated. Even if the stimulation is sort of negative – like they don’t like it – that’s at least a reaction – something for them to think about or talk about. (PR 1998.)
Paul Rutherford’s music certainly did enhance the lives of most of the people who heard it, and will continue to do so via the recordings. This is one of the very best ones. Listen, and be enhanced.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (2007).
(The two quotes from Paul Rutherford come from interviews that were broadcast on 'Jazz on 3' on BBC Radio 3.)
"The solo album is a lost treasure. Recorded at three separate concerts, it captures Rutherford at the peak of his powers, employing a panoply of techniques, many experimental and innovative, most developed by Rutherford himself. He manages to make a solo trombone sound like a rich and varied ensemble. As well as various muted effects, there are frequent examples of Rutherford's renowned multi-phonics - singing (or sometimes growling) whilst also playing.
There is playing at the extremes of the tonal range: the deep bass split tones on A Song My Granny Taught Me and Quartus are both extraordinary and affecting. The sudden, soaring high frequency swoops, often accompanied by vocal effects, are just as impressive. And on Berl In Zil, Rutherford duets with a trombone-activated piano which produces sounds similar to a pianist plucking and strumming inside the instrument, the end result being pleasingly harmonious.
The most miraculous thing of all, however, is not the range of sounds that Rutherford conjures from his instrument, but that they are all integrated together - alongside much conventional playing - into performances that burst with musicality and imagination. Never does it sound as if Rutherford is using an effect just because he can, but rather that he has a vast array of sounds available, which he deploys as required to translate the sounds in his head into music.
This is one of Rutherford's very best albums; in time, it may even come to be rated as highly as his classic solo album, THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE. For now, it can certainly be mentioned in the same breath. "
JOHN EYLES - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2007
"These recordings, released after Rutherford¹s death, capture the trombonist at his most creative, soon after the recording of his groundbreaking solo LP THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE. In these solo sets, the Englishman sputters and flutters, spits and clangs, grunts and roonts, pushing ever further the art of trombone playing, expanding on the pioneering techniques revealed on the aforementioned LP, if that is possible. The music is destabilising yet true, occasionally very cartoonish yet never funny.
The album opens with a 30-minute set recorded in March. Sound quality is here excellent and all four pieces from that set rival Rutherford¹s all-time best performances in imagination and quality. He even tinkers the insides of a piano while playing the bone in Berl In Zil. The remainder of the CD (45 minutes) is culled from performances on consecutive days in November of the same year. Here, sound quality is a little less impressive, and the raucous audience gets in the way of the listener¹s pleasure. However, again, Rutherford delivers stunning performances, Tertius providing a vivid illustration of his dedication to push forward and keep on developing his sound world, no matter what. The first four tracks are definitely essential; the rest is still top-shelf material. Let¹s just hope there are more of these archival recordings to come."
FRANÇOIS COUTURE - ALL-MUSIC GUIDE 2007
"Rutherford avoided overt structure and repetition, showed an intense understanding of the sonic potential of his instrument and revealed his virtuosity without relishing in it for its own sake. This new recording only underscores these qualities. The music is also gutsy and funny, as Bill Smith wrote in CODA. What might also make it genuine is what it isn't (which in itself is quite spectacular). By avoiding conventional structures, Rutherford makes nearly every note unexpected. That's what free improvisation should be about.
On Berlintro, when Rutherford vocalises through the horn, he at times sounds like a spiteful child unable to control himself; the 'anger' appears when Rutherford pushes his instrument into new realms. By showing us what the limits might be and his attempt to expand them, Rutherford reveals a creative mind at work: he tries a new sound, listens, repeats it occasionally - as if experiencing a childlike glee at discovering something new and then moves on. Berl in Zil is quieter, introspective and wry. The four pieces from the TMM sport lots of vocalisations, screams and growls, rapid fire tonguing. The last piece changes slightly, its drones evolving slowly before reverting back to quick trills. Indeed this music displays a man searching for a sound and reflecting on what he found. Rutherford's music remains thus, highly specific, and resists classification at every turn. Enjoying it means to slowly pare away the encrustation of musical history up to that point."
BRUCE CARNEVALE - CODA 2007
"The pleasing duty of stressing concepts that the cognoscenti already know very well falls on us: Paul Rutherford was one of the true giants of free improvisation, no questions asked. The 75 minutes of SOLO IN BERLIN literally run away too soon, and at the end it seems that we've just had a pleasant conversation with a trusted friend. The timbre: so warmly confident, perennially connected with a reality that speaks of bigger and better things even when we're all starting to see the poverty line, both materially and as far as artistic values are concerned. Hey, he was playing this stuff 33 years ago, you could argue. Correct. Still, this material sounds as fresh as a rose and stays wonderfully intelligent, a rare feature indeed. The technical proficiency: a deadly weapon of tediousness in the wrong hands, merely the sign of a superior way of thinking music in Rutherford's. The nullification of the need of systematizing matters: because when a wholesome musician plays an instrument and those who listen feel like that person is talking to their essence, this is usually the indication of something special. No sententious speeches from this man, who efficiently looked for the crux of sonic significance. Expressed by a note, a hundred notes, his voice, a series of unpredictable slides, slurs and glissandos, a few hissing vapours and a good-hearted smile. We can't see it, yet it's there somewhere. One of the best instrumental solo albums of the last three decades, and I'm writing this after the first of what is going to be a long chain of listens."
MASSIMO RICCI - TOUCHING EXTREMES 2008
"To call Paul Rutherford's solo recording a master class would be too belittling Certainly it's got the mastery, technical range, and sheer 'how does he do it?' quality that term connotes; but it's not staid, dry, or formal. Rutherford's incredible deconstruction of tromboneliness (both literal, as on the clattery extensions of the first piece, and figurative) is arguably even finer than on his well known THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE. Lusty and garrulous, surly and declamatory, puckish and inquisitive, all these qualities flash in a moment, courtesy of a truly vivid musical imagination and a powerful, individual technique."
JASON BIVINS - SIGNAL TO NOISE 2008
"In an interview shortly before his passing, Rutherford related the experience to this writer: I remember one case many years ago in Berlin at the FMP festival, and there were five or six trombone players from all over the place. One of the guys who played was involved in contemporary music, [Vinko Globokar] and he had to do a solo one night, another night it was me, and I think another night was Gunter Christmann. Anyway, Vinko came up and said 'what are you going to play for your solo?' I said, 'I don't know. I'm just going to go out and play.' He said 'don't you have an idea what you're going to start with?' I said 'no, and I don't want any idea. I'm going to improvise, and I'm going to go on to play improvised music.'
This situation was luckily recorded, though only five minutes of the performance was released previously. SOLO IN BERLIN 1975 collects the entire gig, as well as performances from the Total Music Meeting 1975 in Berlin's Quartier Latin. Rutherford has been characterised as a musician-storyteller, which is interesting because one thinks of a storyteller as one who has a preordained idea of what one is going to be said. Yet Rutherford creates an environment in which events occur, jocular or athletic, pensive or indescribable as he vocalises, hums, whinnies, belches in a treatise of sonic exploration on not only 'flicking the bugle', as he says, but seeing what motion coupled with breath can do. If images and colours are part of this treatise, so be it, but that's not the intent at which he approaches his horn.
There's the conflation of low, held vibrato and crisp raucousness, percussive clanging and what approaches circular breathing and nearly electro-acoustic sonic output. A manic, enraged bebopper is proof - if one needs it - of Rutherford's technical ability (or audacity) in Berlintro, screeching and howling his way through J.J. Johnson on a path towards Rosmosis. Berl in Zil finds him battering piano strings alongside the slide, plucking and playing with resonance as he blows into the soundboard. These sonic events occur, but as in life, they all spring from one another, and the humanity of the experience is its defining thread."
CLIFFORD ALLEN - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2008
"So closely is Rutherford associated with solo trombone-playing that it is surprising to realize how little of it was actually captured on record. That situation has changed markedly in recent years and this posthumous release improves the situation further. Apart from a short piece issued on an FMP primer, all of the music is previously unreleased, and perhaps withheld because of the rumbustious reception Rutherford received at the 1975 Total Music Meeting in Berlin. Producer Martin Davidson, who has done a wonderful job in cleaning up the tapes, expressed some doubt as to the morality of releasing the CD after Paul's death, lest it be though he was cashing in. In short, the music here is too important, too beautiful and affirming not to be heard"
RICHARD COOK & BRIAN MORTON - The Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS, 9th edition 2008
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