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Strength & Power: In Praise of Roswell Rudd

A tribute concert and launch of a website containing the legendary trombonist’s archives are keeping his legacy alive

Roswell Rudd
Roswell Rudd (photo: Verna Gillis)

On Dec. 22, 2017, the jazz and creative music world suffered a crater-sized blow when visionary composer and forward-thinking trombonist Roswell Rudd passed away after a long battle with cancer.

The glorious, volcanic, Dixieland-informed sound that blew from Rudd’s trombone is so unmistakably Roswell Rudd that it might as well be its own genre. From his seminal work with Steve Lacy and Archie Shepp to the New York Art Quartet and New York Eye and Ear Control (with Don Cherry, Albert Ayler, John Tchicai, Gary Peacock, and Sunny Murray) to his latter-day collaborations with Malian, Mongolian, and Chinese musicians (the bulk released by Sunnyside Records), Rudd was the epitome of renegade. All the while, he inspired veterans and young upstarts alike, including pianist (and Kerhonkson, N.Y., neighbor) Jamie Saft, vocalist Fay Victor, and slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein, who cites the New York Art Quartet and Shepp’s Live in San Francisco as touchstones that helped him realize the vision of Sexmob, his longtime avant-jazz group.

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