- Phil Freeman
Episode 4 of the Burning Ambulance podcast features the final interview with trombonist Roswell Rudd before his death in December 2017. Rudd was one of the pioneering figures of the jazz avant-garde; though he started out in a Dixieland band, by 1960, he was working with Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and Steve Lacy. He was a member of the ensemble that recorded the legendary ESP-Disk’ album New York Eye & Ear Control, alongside Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray; along with Tchicai, drummer Milford Graves, and several different bassists, he formed the New York Art Quartet, whose debut album, also on ESP-Disk’, is a landmark of the free jazz era. He and Lacy collaborated for years, interpreting Thelonious Monk‘s music without a pianist; he was also on multiple Shepp albums in the ’60s, and appeared on the Jazz Composers Orchestra album Communications. In the 2000s, Rudd explored music beyond jazz, recording albums with Mongolian musicians and with Puerto Rican guitarist and cuatro player Yomo Toro. His latest releases include Strength and Power, a collaboration with keyboardist Jamie Saft , bassist Trevor Dunn , and drummer Balazs Pandi, and Embrace, with singer Fay Victor, pianist Lafayette Harris, and bassist Ken Filiano.
Rudd was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and battled the disease until his death in December 2017, but maintained as busy a recording and performing schedule as he could until the end. It’s easy to tell, in this conversation, that he was in poor health; he spoke softly and slowly. But I think it’s still a very interesting interview, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.