Acclaimed free and avant-garde jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd and partner Verna Gillis, an accomplished ethnomusicologist and music producer, have teamed up in a new project called The Olders. Their first video single is “Awesome and Gruesome,” an irreverent (warning: some explicit language) yet touching downtown-meets-upstate rap about enjoying life through illness and the process of aging.
The concept was inspired by a sequence of events in April 2016: Rudd’s invitation as a guest at the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters Award Tribute Concert and biopsy at Memorial Sloan Kettering as part of his treatment in dealing with an aggressive form of cancer. This prompted Gillis to tell Rudd, “You’re going from awesome to gruesome.”
JazzTimes is pleased to premiere the video here, featuring Rudd on vocals and trombone, Gillis on vocals, Gov’t Mule’s Danny Louis on keyboards and other musicians not seen in the footage (Matthew Finck, guitar; Jesse Murphy; bass; T Xiques, drums).
The band is planning instrumental versions of the song as well.