Picks and Pans Review: Regeneration

updated 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Roswell Rudd and Steve Lacy

The secret of jazz trombone, Roswell Rudd once explained, lies in knowing how to turn a shortcoming into a long suit. Trombones can't spew notes like, say, a saxophone can, he noted. So trombonists compensate by selecting and shaping their sounds more attentively, packing a riff's worth of expression into each note. Few modern 'bone players have done that as consistently as Rudd, and those same values pervade this exemplary session featuring soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. The album is devoted to the compositions of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. The former is better known, but both are among the most iconoclastic, strangely humorous and affecting writers in jazz history. The six tunes (three by each composer) move with a gait all their own—jaunty, loping, jocular, at the same time oddly spiritual, questing and spacious. Rudd is at his brawling, braying best, and Misha Mengelberg's knotty, eruptive piano captures the music's rhythmic and emotional essence perfectly. But then, the entire group (Kent Carter on bass and Han Bennink on drums) burrow as deep into Nichols and Monk as anyone has ever done, and that's saying something. You may have to scramble to find Regeneration, on the hip Soul Note label, but it will repay the search.

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