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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Improvised Ecstasy

posted by on July 15 at 22:18 PM


Holy shit—Paul Rucker.

The multi-instrumentalist/band leader extracted a phenomenal performance from a who’s who of Seattle jazz and avant luminaries on Saturday. Part of Monktail Creative Music Concern’s concert series in Cal Anderson park, Rucker’s ensemble was all over the map but never off-target, consistently escalating from the abstract (trance-like thumb piano patterns, violin-vs-cello scratching) to the concise (full-blown soul-jazz crescendos). Tempestuous horns, crackling breakbeats, rubbery upright bass—the band snapped tight as Rucker stood and conducted or played electric bass or cello, giving enough room for surprises to unfold while never for a moment allowing doubt that they might not. Even as a weirdly skronking, off-tempo horn battle launched one song, there was no doubt that the number would go somewhere, and eventually it erupted into a hard-swinging lockstep groove reminiscent of Black Saint-style Mingus and the best Impulse or CTI jazz of the mid-’70s.

Really—this guy’s a monster. Even his solo cello number was hypnotizing. I want more of Paul Rucker and I want it now.


Also terrific during Saturday’s jazz-in-the-park sesh: Orkestar Zirkonium. The Balkan brass band paraded in past the wading pool—tuba belching, horns tooting, bass drum booming—and later stepped off stage to play in the grass, among the crowd. It was impossible to not get swept up because they were so damn close, and so damn good. The horn player from OZ later sat in with Rucker’s ensemble, as did Aham from Seattle hard-jazzers Industrial Revelation. There are some motherfucking PLAYERS in this town, and not just in the rock scene.

Speaking of: Why wasn’t Cal Anderson packed to the gills on Saturday? It was a beautiful afternoon, there was free music in the middle of Capitol Hill, and there were maybe 150 people there, 200 max. This isn’t gooey background jazz, either, but weird and potent and extremely soulful stuff. Wassup people? FREE MUSIC. IN THE PARK. BEER DRINKING WITH YOUR FEET IN A FOUNTAIN. SUMMERTIME. It’s elementary.

Also: a naked parade. What’s not to like?

Monktail is the only free summer jazz series in the city, and the talent is ferocious. Next month, Saturday, August 11 4, features Skerik and Wayne Horvitz, among others. Seriously. Don’t miss it.

RSS icon Comments


Both of Paul Rucker's album's "History of an Apology" and "Oil" from a couple years ago are stellar. He was also part of the FANTASTIC New Seattle Orchestra-Mass Line shows that Aham and Evan Flory-Barnes set up at Langtson recently. Probably one of the creative music events of the year and somehow it barely got any attention.

Posted by Hell Yeah | July 16, 2007 12:04 AM

Zwickel, maybe you should write about it BEFORE it happens

Posted by Frank | July 16, 2007 12:10 AM

Allow me to reaffirm the above comment. Not only is Paul Rucker one of the best musicians in town, he's one of the prime movers in a new phase of jazz/art/whatever. Dude is over the chain. Also, definitely big ups for the New Seattle Orchestra their show absolutely floored me. I didn't know emceeing could mesh so well with orchestral composition. But then, I didn't know that orchestral composition could have a backbeat. Go figure. That show was unbelievable, although I didn't see much of Paul Rucker there. Perhaps he was there the other night. Anyway, there are some crazy good musicians in this town who are blowing away all comers. Paul Rucker and New Seattle Orchestra are a couple of them. They run shit. Yes.

Posted by Beachhead | July 16, 2007 12:13 AM

Rucker's the man. He's had some great sound/art installations around town too.

Posted by Paulus | July 16, 2007 12:55 AM

@2, we wrote up the event in two separate places.


and here:

both previews focused on OZ. nobody ever told me about paul rucker.

Posted by jz | July 16, 2007 2:02 AM

@1, i previewed that too:

JUNE 13, 2007

(Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center) "There's a genuine appreciation of all the different cultures in the Seattle music community, and the level of acceptance for intertwining different genres is growing," says Ahamefule J. Oluo, local trumpet wiz and composer. Tonight's cross-genre, cross-cultural, cross-generational blowout will prove his point. Oluo's compositions, along with those of bass standout Evan Flory-Barnes, will be played by a 23-piece orchestra comprising Seattle's finest in jazz, classical, and avant-garde rock. Further spicing up the mix, local hiphop heroes Gabriel Teodros and Common Market will rock the mic to their own songs set to orchestral arrangements, with comedian Hari Kondabolu and Mass Line maestro Sabzi hosting. If it all sounds like a big deal, that's because it is. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

Posted by jz | July 16, 2007 2:08 AM

Jonathan - The next Sounds Outside concert is AUGUST 4, not 11.

Posted by mcmc | July 16, 2007 10:27 AM

ATTENTION! The third and final installment of Sounds Outside 2007 will be held on August 4th NOT August 11th.

Posted by John Ewing | July 16, 2007 11:23 AM

August 4th will be nuts. McTuff!!!

Posted by DC | July 16, 2007 11:27 AM

SOUNDS OUTSIDE is the best thing since sliced bread.

Posted by lissy pie | July 16, 2007 12:00 PM

Gust Burns is the King of Rock.

Posted by alfred | July 16, 2007 12:05 PM

My girlfriend and I just missed Okestar Zirkonium or whatever and then it took way too long for the next set- during which time some scruffy idiot started plinking on the piano to the amusement of only two five year old children. So we left.

Posted by CC | July 16, 2007 5:50 PM

Video of Paul Rucker's performance is available at the Vroom Journal:

Posted by mcmc | July 16, 2007 5:52 PM

Yes, well that "scruffy idiot" was Gust Burns and right after you left Modest Mouse joined him on stage and they kicked out the best jams ever in seattle. Rolling Stone magazine was there and they're doing a feature on the performance. They we calling it the best show of 2007, hands down. Too bad you left dude.

Not to worry though, in a year or two you'll be telling people that you were actually there and they you did the brown acid.

Posted by Johnny stromboli | July 16, 2007 6:46 PM

Yeah, yeah, Paul Rucker's great and all, but those kids watching him? CUTEST EVER.

Posted by oye como va | July 16, 2007 8:05 PM

JZ, no for real, NSO deserves more of a preview than a little blurb. Go on then.

Posted by Since I'm Here | July 17, 2007 1:11 PM

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