There's really nothing surprising about Roswell Rudd's latest musical endeavor. To be sure, a duo consisting of trombone and fingerpicked acoustic guitar is an unlikely combination of instruments to say the least. But Rudd, afterall, is considered one of the pioneers of avant-garde and free jazz. Rudd recently questioned in a public letter how a 68-year-old veteran Dixieland player such as himself could still be considered avant-garde. Well, Ros, there ain't too many 68-year-old trombonists tearin' it up on stage with acoustic guitar virtuosos in a free jazz format.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but know this: Rudd's musical history is full of contradiction. He spent 1961-63 covering Thelonious Monk tunes in a piano-less trio featuring soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and drummer Dennis Charles. The group was called the School Days Quartet. In the early '90s, after disappearing from sight and sound for a couple of decades (a period during which he mostly taught classes not related to music at several universities), Rudd, the seasoned jazz veteran, turned up blowing horn in a hotel resort band in the Catskills. By Y2K, the then-64-year-old Rudd was once again jamming with Lacy, recording the phenomenal Monk's Dream (Verve) and touring extensively.
With Baker, an insanely versatile guitarist who's played with everyone from the Ink Spots to John Zorn, Rudd engages in music that's decidedly (and, one has to believe, purposely) and simultaneously anti- and parallel to jazz: gospel, blues, ragtime, Dixieland, swing and a colorful wash of everything in between. Both Rudd and Baker have extensive backgrounds in improvisation and free jazz, so expect the unexpected. Also expect an extraordinary musical experience.
The Roswell Rudd-Duck Baker Duo perform Sunday, March 28, at the Outpost Performance Space at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $10 Outpost members. Call 268-0044 for more information.