PAUL RUTHERFORD trombone (1 - 4) & electronics (1)
PAUL ROGERS double bass (2)
VERYAN WESTON piano (4)
MARCIO MATTOS cello & electronics (4)
1 - DUET FOR ONE - 21:59
2 - DUET FOR TWO - 25:23
3 - SOLO FOR ONE - 18:00
4 - TRIO FINALE - 9:59
Analogue (1,2) & digital (3,4) concert recordings:
1 - Milano (Teatro Auteo) by Riccardo Bergerone 1979 November 22
2 - London (Duke of Wellington) by Andy Isham 1988 August 27
3 - Brussels (Petit Théâtre Mercelis) by Michael W Huon 2004 October 26
4 - London (Red Rose) by Rick Campion & Sebastian Lexer 2007 May 7
Total time 75:42
All previously unissued
We founded Emanem in 1974, mainly because we kept going to improvisation gigs in London and hearing music that was superb, unique and original. And it was not being recorded for further dissemination – it was just there once for the few people who were the audience. Paul Rutherford solo performances were perhaps the most outstanding music that was just (to quote Eric Dolphy) 'gone in the air'. His excellent trio, Iskra 1903, with Derek Bailey and Barry Guy, had been documented on Incus (reissued as CHAPTER ONE on EMANEM 5311), so I started recording his solo pieces and issued his selection of them as THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (reissued on EMANEM 4019)).
I felt at the time that he was the greatest trombonist in free improvisation, thanks to his strong, imaginative lines involving a considerable range of sounds, made with just the instrument enhanced with some use of his voice and mutes. His quiet but outrageous sense of humour and somewhat outlandish use of form also helped. After forty years of further listening to a wide range of improvisers, I still feel the same way. I consider that he was one of the best trombonists in any genre, as well as one of the finest improvisers on any instrument. Once issued, THE GENTLE HARM became very influential – not just with trombonists.
Going through my archives recently, I came across the four concert items that make up this CD, and they seemed to be crying out to be released as they are some of the best music I have heard in ages. So I make no apologies for issuing yet another collection of his music.
The earliest music in this collection dates from 1979; the year that the Great Leap Backward took hold in Britain, thanks to the election of its prime implementer Thatcher (who was joined in the global chamber of horrors by the likes of Reagan and Pinochet). The aim of these Backwarders was to remove all the positive achievements of the previous 35 years, and to increase the use of money rather than move towards doing away with it. This was propagandised (mainly by Reagan) as the 'trickle down' theory, which in practice has proven to be a 'torrent up' to such an extent that now, in 2017, eight people own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population.
But to return to a positive event from that dastardly year – having implied that Rutherford did not need any enhancements to his colouration, there was a short period when he did use electronics as well as a voice mike. This allowed him to have conversations with himself. Sometimes this alter ego worked with him; sometimes it seemed to go off by itself with somewhat hilarious results. Such a one-man-band is captured as Duet for One, which immediately preceded the three two-person duets with Barry Guy heard on ONE FOUR AND TWO TWOS (EMANEM 5027). Another solo with electronics can be heard on TETRALOGY (EMANEM 5202).
The trio with Paul Rogers and Nigel Morris was one of the great groups of the early 1980s – as heard on GHEIM (EMANEM 5034)). After the drummer emigrated, the two Pauls continued to work as the very close duo heard on Duet for Two which was recorded a few months before their duo CD ROGUES (EMANEM 4007).
Rutherford continued to play solo (as well as with other groups) and continued to maintain his high standard as can be heard on Solo for One recorded in Brussels in 2004. Maybe his later performances are not quite up to the ones from 1974/5, but they are superlative by any other standards.
A couple of years later, I heard Rutherford play a fantastic duet with cellist Marcio Mattos – another masterpiece that was just 'gone in the air'. I asked Paul if he would like to repeat that duo at the 2007 Freedom of the City festival. He said that he would also like to add the consummate pianist Veryan Weston. Listening to Trio Finale, one gets the feeling that this could have been a musically-successful long-term trio. But this was not to be – the last notes heard here were the last that Rutherford played in public – he died three months later. The official cause of death mentioned his aorta and liver – the more profound cause was surely a 'broken heart' of not being recognised as the major artist he was.
A year after Rutherford’s death, as if to validate his socialist politics, the whole convoluted monetarist house-of-cards edifice – Thatcher’s main legacy – collapsed. Speculative bankers had been getting rich by borrowing invented money to bet on the progress of imaginary money. As a result of this unreal world suddenly hitting rock bottom, the bankers, in collusion with governments, managed to effectively steal most of the money belonging to everyone else. To pay for this greedy recklessness of the few and their opulent lifestyle, the rest of us were put on a diet of austerity. This should have been the end of the totally discredited Backward movement, but the endless greed of the hyper-rich and their stranglehold over most of the media and political parties has kept it going. Paul Rutherford was not recklessly greedy – he just wanted to have some of the fame and fortune his real talents deserved.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (2017)
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