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Solo trombone improvisations

1 - NOITA NEILA - 4:28
2 - ELAQUEST - 11:23
3 - LONESCARISO - 5:29
4 - ESUNI SETAG - 9:02
6 - OSIRAC SENOL - 14:53

All analogue recordings made in London
at the Unity Theatre by MARTIN DAVIDSON
1-2: 1974 JULY 2
3-5: 1974 AUGUST 20
6-7: 1974 DECEMBER 17
Total time 55:31

1-4 & 6-7 originally issued in 1976 as Emanem LP 3305
5 previously unissued


Excerpts from sleeve notes:

In the early 1970s, Paul Rutherford (b. 1940 - d. 2007) started to perform in public as a solo improviser. It is in this format that one can, perhaps, best appreciate his inventiveness and originality. The most obvious aspect is his use of additional techniques to those taught in the conservatory, notably his remarkable use of mutes and his voice, both enhanced by his sense of humour. (He was probably the first trombonist in this area of music to use his voice to create multi-phonics, as witness the 1968 Mike Westbrook recording RELEASE.) However, attention should also be paid to the shapes and directions of his improvisations.

All of the improvised trombone solos on this CD were recorded at three of the then weekly Musicians' Co-operative concerts that were held at the late Unity Theatre in 1974. Unlike the two previous LP releases of this material, all the music is now presented in the order it was recorded. Also all seven extracts originally chosen by Rutherford are included for the first time. (There was not room for all seven on an LP, so one was kept aside for an anthology which was never released. Actually, there was not really room for the six pieces that were issued on the LP, since the long side lengths resulted in a considerable amount of print-through (pre-echo), which is largely absent from this CD.)

It should be noted that there was absolutely no electronic trickery involved in the production of this music - what you hear is just (!) one man, a trombone and some mutes. The percussive sounds were generally caused by a mute interacting with the bell of the trombone, or with the table on which they were kept during the performances. Other such sounds were caused by the interaction of feet and floor, and (unintentionally, I hope) the trombone slide hitting a microphone stand - a hazard of recording trombonists! The bubbling sounds at the end of ELAQUEST are the result of not having emptied any saliva from the instrument since the beginning of the performance.

This album was the first of Rutherford's solo work to be recorded, and is an excellent representation of his music in 1974. When it was first issued a couple of years later, it caused quite a stir amongst those improvisers and laymen who had previously not heard his work. Several improvisers, not only trombonists, were profoundly influenced by it. Today, it should also cause quite a stir amongst those who are not familiar with his music, since it is probably the finest solo trombone album ever made.

MARTIN DAVIDSON (1986 & 1997)


Excerpts from reviews:

"Back in the summer of 1974 Paul Rutherford recorded what would become a seminal statement of freely improvised music. Prior to GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOIS the trombone had not been viewed as a viable voice in such a context and the fact that Rutherford succeeded so completely in his endeavour made even rabid sceptics take note and listen."


"The first advance to suggest both a technical and formal expansion of the instrument was made by Paul Rutherford. As well as the obvious technical advances, Rutherford's work implies a whole different way of approaching time and rhythm and organisation of sound. His solo album, THE GENTLE HARM, is a true 'tour de force' in this respect. Perhaps even more than Derek Bailey or Evan Parker, Rutherford has let the concept of free improvisation imply an extremely open form of free association of sound and context. His pieces are truly "pieces", in that they are entirely open-ended, employing an organic logic of the moment, allowing the mind/body (and instrument) to follow any tangent wherever it will (and to cease following whenever it will) rather than limiting itself to the demands of a more forced (and easily definable) structural unity. This is in addition to an even more extended musical vocabulary and greater technical virtuosity. At least as of now, Rutherford has taken the instrument as far as it has been taken, and the conceptual implications of his work go well beyond any consideration of the trombone as such."


"Open spontaneous performances in which new instrumental techniques are not so much demonstrated as completely absorbed into an intensely coloured music fabric."


"Rutherford's solo LP, THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, is shocking, and it suggests that he's the most significant non-American to appear in jazz since Django Reinhardt over four decades ago. To begin with, dear God! what a variety of sounds he produces! Even if you're used to Lester Bowie's trumpet, the chatters, knocks, whistles, mumbles, overtones, and harmonics, among other things, that Rutherford contrives are almost beyond belief. While making these astonishing noises he stomps a foot and rattles mutes against the bell of his horn to simulate a drummer. His collection of mutes must be huge, and he constantly fiddles with their placement in his bell. He uses his voice as well , so that in part of Elaquest there's a near-canon of low trombone, voice, and fast, mysterious popping sounds. A central section of Osirac Senol actually does recall Bowie with its long tones: Harmonics are held, lip whistles enter, growls ensue. He makes conventional trombone sounds too - the classic glides, smears, pure tones, and incredibly fast phrases, that in their precise pitch distinctions, are as exotic as his harmonics. 'True' and 'false' sounds, exact and indeterminate pitch all mingle and flow one into another. Surely the trombone is among the most difficult of common Western instruments to master, yet I can't think of a woodwind player whose virtuosity approaches Rutherford's. This is certainly one of the best LPs of the year."


"A landmark of free improvisation. Paul Rutherford may be less well known than some of his old partners in arms like Evan Parker and Derek Bailey, but on this live solo recital he sounds every bit as original, compelling and creative. Using only trombone, mutes and voice, he constantly amazes the listener by the effortless speed and energy with which sounds not only pour out but change their entire character from second to second. A tour de force which must be heard to be believed."


"This record sings of the fundamental joy of making sounds on the trombone. Rutherford's facility is nothing short of phenomenal. He is all over the range of the horn, utilising quick multiple tonguing, sharp juxtapositions of muted and unmuted sounds, a variety of densities and dynamics (again, often quickly juxtaposed), a strong rhythmic drive underpinned with a paradoxical feeling of statis, his own voice, and various percussive sounds. Rutherford's music roars, rumbles, screams, cries, and whispers. Separate pieces are featured from several dates, but the music is all of a piece, and an impressive piece at that."


"This is still the best record of solo free improvising you are likely to find. Maybe, it's the only one. It's all done by imagination plus the standard musical abilities; but imagination is the engine, and he keeps it unencumbered by forward planning or systematic devices. He entertains a little strategy, I think, but not too much. It's a combination of the easy, the difficult and the impossible and it usually happens very quickly. The playing on this record, in my view, is completely successful. It is certainly what it is supposed to be. If you're thinking of buying a record of solo improvisation you should try and get this one. It's the genuine article."


"This is the third issue of this seminal recording and its first release on CD, immaculately recorded and produced by Martin Davidson. Its content is of the standard that most of us dream of producing. Paul's facility on the trombone is incredible. His extended technique opens the trombone up to infinite possibilities which many trombonists, including myself, find liberating. He exploits the many sonic properties of the trombone via multi-phonics (singing and playing), growling, mute manipulation and other unnamed techniques. This often causes the uninitiated to say 'is this really a trombone?' The music, divided into seven pieces, is delicate, passionate, joyous and unorthodox. All the technique is considered but he seems to be speaking as he finds. The bumps on the microphone with the slide, along with mute rattling, add to the humanity of the music. It is still cutting edge after 24 years. Musician and record alike have inspired a generation of improvisers - go and buy it now!"


"There are very, very few albums that sustain the high level of invention that English trombonist Paul Rutherford carries off in these astonishing tour de force performances culled from three concerts recorded in 1974. There's no call and response, no interconnected series of melodic variation, no sense of formal closure, or any of the conventional structural elements that might give one comfort. Instead, there's a relentless forward momentum as Rutherford uses extended instrumental techniques to discover new sounds and new ways to get from one idea to another without ever repeating himself. His enormous vocabulary of trombone sounds includes squelches, grunts, seagull arias, wet plops like bubbling molasses, startled whoops, soft puffs of air, multiphonic chords, an exhaustive catalogue of muted sounds, and smears of rapidly played untempered tomes. He moulds them into performances that never repeat themselves and reveal something new in every minute."


"Paul Rutherford displays an astonishing bundle of techniques. (Can an album ever have been made with so many 32nd notes played on a single trombone?) It is also quite remarkable for endurance. Like one of Cecil Taylor 40-minute bombasts. Rutherford tirelessly double-tongues at way over the speed limit for incredible stretches, often simultaneously singing or moaning into his horn. If there is a sampler of avant-garde trombone methods extant that is more encyclopaedic than this re-release, I'd be very surprised."


"Wild, spontaneous, free, virtuosic, outrageous, dazzling - choose your own adjectives - Rutherford creates a world beyond any known systems of tonality or rhythm or chance techniques. Free association, to a radical degree, is his method, fast juxtapositions of ideas is his natural habitat. His phrases are almost always short and undeveloped. From the start, dynamic contrasts are extreme, with big tones followed by breathing or muttering through the horn. By the second piece, Elaquest, he's playing low multiphonics and then stomping his feet and rattling mutes to accompany long, emphatic lines. About 2:40 into Esuni Setag he creates a fine, funky line, before plunging into deliriously fast, broken phrases with mutes and yelping. Much of the central portion of Osirac Senol is played very softly, with low growls and mouthpiece whistling. The last piece is Er Player Blues Now which sounds like a trombone version of a cat fight, ending with Rutherford complaining through his horn.

But really, it's impossible to describe this disc. Someday, you can be sure that somebody will write a Ph. D. thesis cataloguing all the sound effects, playing techniques, high-low-middle leaps, dynamic and momentum levels, and music jokes that Rutherford presents in THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISE - a spectacular document."


"Rutherford's unconventional technique on the trombone incorporates every effect imaginable: blurts, buzzes, multiphonics, growls, extended range, and more. His use of mutes recalls the effusive innovations of Ellington's Tricky Sam Nanton. An hour of solo trombone might appear intimidating, but this wild romp through seven original improvisations never flails. Nicely packaged with four short poems written by Rutherford, this is as timeless and enduring as English tea - but with a bit more pizzazz."


"When THE GENTLE HARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE was first released in 1976, solo trombone albums were very few, let alone free improv ones! If you happened to hear it, you were immediately struck by Paul Rutherford's originality and virtuosity. The album passed the test of time: it is as exciting today, now that the instrument has a few more adepts. This album features one man, one trombone and a few mutes. There are no electronics involved. What makes it so impressive is the fact that Rutherford never falls into the pit of extended techniques demonstration. These short-to-medium-length improvs show a huge level of integration of these techniques -- there are not 'tricks' anymore, but a way of life. The trombonist follows his own agenda, constantly choosing the direction the listener didn't think of, slipping from one approach to the next, adding colours and even a bit of humour, something inevitable with an instrument that has a reputation to be funny. On The Funny Side of Discreet Rutherford plays around with mutes, extending the vocabulary of circus jokes, so to speak. Yet, on Osirac Senol he gets mournful, verging on the sublime, before building up to an explosion. Any trombone student should hear this: the speed, precision, rollercoaster-like inventiveness, ability to touch, surprise, or even shock. It's all in here, feeling so natural you wonder how anyone could play differently. For free improv fans, this one is a must-have; for trombonists, it ranks as a classic."


"As wryly subversive as the title suggests. Devotedly recorded by Martin Davidson at the Unity Theatre, it's now infinitely more listenable than on muddy LP. Rutherford's grasp of multiphonics is already assured. The two long tracks, Elaquest and Osirac Senol, are definitive."

RICHARD COOK and/or BRIAN MORTON - 'The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD' 1998


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