Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Paul Rutherford 1940-2007... tailgating for the avant-garde...

There were posts on the BBC Radio 3 Jazz board about the death of Paul Rutherford. And elsewhere... another great musician gone (Art Davis dying last week - and the folk singer Tommy Makem).I saw Paul Rutherford a few weeks ago at the Freedom of the City festival (review here) and he blew up a storm in company with Marcio Mattos and Veryan Weston. Complete with clenched fist salute at the end of the set - Rutherford was a man with a deep attachment to Communism. It struck me as quaint at the time... thinking back on it now, more a sadness for lost utopias. Here was someone who held to his road, no matter what. And apparently never received much financial reward for his revelatory, inspiring experimental work on his instrument. What came across at that gig was how deeply rooted he was in the tradition, oddly enough... I'm trying to sort out a proper tribute later, as I have a recording of the gig as part of a larger file. For now, here he is with the cream of the crop on the Tony Oxley session 'Four Compositions for Sextet' playing 'Amass.' Opening on Evan Parker's tally-hooing call to action soon joined by Bailey and Rutherford et al. Rutherford comes through strongly about 4 minutes in but makes a strong contribution throughout to one of the definitive albums of the Brit avant-garde. Bliss was it in that dawn etc...

Here's Rutherford offering his own philosophy on music:

'If I didn’t like the music, I wouldn’t play it—simple as that. All the music I was involved with I enjoyed. Music was basically the goal.'

The interview with Clifford Allen in 'All that Jazz' that this extract is taken from is both a fascinating insight into the birth of the free improvising scene in the U.K. in the sixties and Rutherford's contribution to it - and a terribly sad description of what it cost him to follow his art for very little reward. One of the world's premier visionary musicians - stuck on a pension in the U.K. and rarely getting gigs...

Tony Oxley
Tony Oxley (d) Kenny Wheeler (t) Evan Parker (ts) Paul Rutherford (tr) Derek Bailey (g) Jeff Clyne (b)
Amass
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8 comments:

etnobofin said...

Sad news indeed, PR was one of a kind - I'll have to write a note over on my blog in due course.

Rod... said...

He looked pretty gaunt when I saw him recently - but his playing was phenomenal. And I was thinking afterwards - that was the only time I had seen him live and I so much wanted to see/hear him again... a real giant...

godoggo said...

Thank you for mentioning the passing of Dr. Art Davis. There's a beautiful (and ever-growing) tribute
to him from Southern California blogger, DJ and man-about-town LeRoy Downs. Among other things, it includes a short video of him taking a solo at the L.A. County Museum of Art recently, and an interview with a fairly long excerpt of his live performance of A Love Supreme with Coltrane.

He was a pillar of the Los Angeles scene in recent years, and a magnificent and adventurous leader. leader with an especially good ear for tenor players: Charles Owens, Doug Webb, Kamasi Washington, Phil Vieux, Ravi Coltrane.

It's unfortunate that these amazing bands weren't documented, but on his myspace page you can hear a nice track from one of his few albums as a leader (with Herbie Hancock). On youtube there are videos of him with Bill Dixon, with Max Roach, and with Elvin Jones (I'm trying not to go overboard with links here, BTW). On his web site there are audio interviews of Dr. Davis with Hank Jones, Elvin Jones and John Purcell.

oswaldsson said...

Paul was a fine improvising musician who stuck to a free expression over many years. I heard him freequently over the past thirty-odd years in many venues in Europe. He's a great loss to the 'frimp' community but, fortunately, there is a goodly number of releases upon which he can be heard eternally!

Rod... said...

Hi godoggo - I'll put up those links in another post - never enough information! Sad news about Dr Davis as well...

Rod... said...

Hi oswaldsson - I was really depressed when I heard the news about Paul Rutherford - I had just seen him for the first time live although I know his music well and had been looking forward to trying to catch him again asap... he did not look well that night but played brilliantly...

david_grundy said...

Hi there, I think you left a comment on my blog a few months ago - thanks for doing so! I enjoy checking yours posts here, when I can, and always find the selection of music eclectic and the postings on it intriguing. Anyway, I'm starting up a new jazz/improv magazine, and wondered whether, if you had time, you would be able to pop something over. I need reviewers, and if there are any recent CDs you've heard, it would be really nice if you could do a 500 word review of one of them for inclusion in the magazine. If not, don't worry at all - although it would be nice if I could include(or some of) your thoughts on the Charles Gayle gig. I'd appreciate it if you could let me know either way at my email address, which is on my blogger profile. All the best,
David.

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