WBGO Radar

Rudy Royston: 303

Cover Art To Rudy Roystons CD 303

Supportive as a role player with an occasionally explosive presence, drummer Rudy Royston makes a lot of bands sound great.

Bearing the rhythm – sometimes bearing down on it – has been his trademark, but there’s no mistaking that Royston is actively listening and anticipating the music makers around him.
 
On 303, his debut recording for Greenleaf Music, Rudy Royston gets a chance to orient the band around his own vision.
 
303 denotes home. That’s the area code for Denver. Rudy Royston was born in Fort Worth, Texas and raised in Colorado. Royston studied there with one of the great local musicians – trumpeter and cornet player Ron Miles.
 
This recording is a tribute to Miles and to this environment – the people, places, mountains and sounds –that shaped Rudy Royston’s sensibilities. They are as direct as family – as in “Goodnight Kinyah,” a lullaby with dream ending for Royston's daughter, or “Play on Words” for his son.
 
He writes for the band too. Mimi Jones’s irresistible deep groove is the inspiration behind “Mimi Sunrise.” Royston also takes cues from pop culture references. There's a Radiohead cover. The rhythm of “Rockin Robin” (more likely from the Michael Jackson version than Bobby Day) suffuses Royston’s own “Bownze,” and a snippet of rhythm borrowed from Scorsese’s Dead Rabbits in “Gangs of New York” burrowed into the drummer’s composition with that name.
 
There’s plenty of excellent music on 303, and Royston brings together a new cast of musicians – a two bass hit with Mimi Jones and Yasushi Nakamura, pianist Sam Harris and guitarist Nir Felder, trumpeter Nadja Noordhuis and saxophonist Jon Irabagon.
 
Perhaps you have heard Rudy Royston already. He’s been very good at the drums, judging from his output with other leaders - saxophonist JD Allen, trumpeter Dave Douglas and guitarist Bill Frisell. 303 introduces you to Rudy Royston at the center of it all.
 
During his first live performance of this music at Winter Jazz Fest, Royston admitted as much. “I’m not used to talking. I’m used to being the sideman. I just sit on the drums and play….I make it look easy (laughs)…’
 
    - Josh Jackson, WBGO VP of content

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