Trombonist Roswell Rudd’s timbral and emotional range is as diverse as ever, and his gnarled imprecations keep pop ballads such as “Unchained Melody” from getting grandiose and novelty-tinged offerings like “Tennessee Waltz” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” from getting too cute. On Ellington’s “Come Sunday” he melds Saturday-night signifying with Sunday-morning reverence; the interplay between his trombone and Steven Bernstein’s slide trumpet on Louis Armstrong’s “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue,” set to drummer Aaron Comess’ rollicking second-line beat, recalls Armstrong’s own blend of high-art sophistication and gutbucket ebullience. (Rudd and Bernstein hook up again on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” in a delightful invocation of Ray Charles and Betty Carter.) Vocalist Fay Victor sounds appropriately gospel-tinged and bluesy on “Trouble in Mind” (a blend accentuated by John Medeski’s Hammond B-3 shadings), while “Green Onions” effectively captures both the original’s deep-soul funkiness and, in the tumultuous group-improvisation climax, the trad-jazz/swing/R&B/bebop/outcat continuum that Rudd’s work has exemplified through the years.
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