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Roswell Rudd and Norma Jean Comin’, People

{mosimage}Even Mongels Get the Blues

You see Roswell Rudd’s name on a project, you know it’s gonna be golden. From the ’60s on, he’s been one of the few trombonists who’ve hung authoritatively with the avant-jazz biggies: After youthful Dixieland adventures, there he was on Cecil Taylor’s New York City R&B, Albert Ayler’s New York Eye & Ear Control, Gil Evans’ Into the Hot, Archie Shepp’s Four for Trane, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra and Carla Bley’s Escalator Over the Hill, not to mention his own dates.

His glowing sound and the easy generosity of his solos are obvious draws, but the factors that’ve really kept Rudd in demand are his deep musicological knowledge and the way he blends. Toss him into an ensemble, and everything’s fuller, rootsier, more together. He’s worked that blending skill internationally in recent times, blowing sunny melodies over Malian strings in 2002 and locking tonalities with Mongolians last year. The latter’s what he’s up to here.

Culturati expecting a growl fest will get purrs instead from the the team-up’s simple melodiousness: The more guttural throat-singing side of steppes music rides horse-rump behind the keening traditional song of Badma Khanda and the floating flute and lutish pluck of multi-instrumentalist and throatsman Battuvshin Baldantseren.

The bill skews even wilder thanks to The Bad Plus, a crazed, hard-hitting Midwestern piano trio as likely to throw down a Black Sabbath gauntlet as a twisty original.

Kids will dig.


The Bad Plus and Roswell Rudd & Badma Khandra’s Mongolian Buryat Band play UCLA’s Royce Hall, Thurs., Nov. 9.


What Would Ozzy Do?

When a band can bust through your cerebral fortifications at a festival where groups are getting marched on and off the stage every 25 minutes like cannon fodder at the Battle of the Marne, you know it’s got something.

The first thing I noticed about Norma Jean at this summer’s Devour stop of Ozzfest was the quality of the noise — two guitars crashing out dissonant hi-lo chords in compellingly hurtful ways. The second thing was the rhythm — instruments vying back and forth in bazooka volleys rather than locking into standard metal’s united riff-and-hammer; it was postdoomsday white funk. Then came the illumination that, whoa, these Atlantans were really getting off on the shit (and so was the crowd) — the summer-blond bass player galloping around hobby-horse style in his fucking white pants, the singer screaming about death as if he was really gonna die. Just when it seemed they were about to strain into one of those bed-wetting emo chorus melodies, they submerged the urge in a wave of battery. It was love.

Norma Jean’s new Redeemer packs all that originality and almost as much chaos. Hard to believe a band so rad, after grinding it out for almost a decade, actually sells records (with hardly any radio play). Must be ’cause these Xtians have influential friends — you know, in High Places.


Norma Jean headlines the Radio Rebellion Tour at Avalon, Sat., Nov. 4.


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