Something very pastoral and naturalistic occurs when Rudy Royston drums. Rather than simply conversing with the soloist, Royston creates a flowing stream of rhythm to swim in and interact with. His sound is tactile, meditative, joyful, and always flowing.
Since moving to New York City from Denver in 2006, Royston has utilized this unique approach to the drum set to firmly establish himself as a first-call sideman. Royston has made a name for himself working in the bands of luminaries such as Dave Douglas, Javon Jackson, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Ben Allison, Bill Frisell, and JD Allen. After one performance with JD Allen, Tony Hall of Jazzwise magazine said “in a way, he is to JD what Elvin was to Coltrane.” An associate and sometimes-bandmate of Denver cornetist Ron Miles, Royston has been heavily influenced by the compositional style and wide-open approach to texture that Miles has pioneered.
2014 saw the release of Royston’s first album as a bandleader, 303, which was released on Greenleaf Records. Titled after his Denver area code, this album showcased Royston’s diverse compositional skills, and featured tunes that ranged from impressionistic tone poems to rock ballads to hard-burning and cerebral swingers. On this record, Royston turned to left-of-center jazz musicians with an experimentalist bent like Jon Irabagon, Sam Harris, and Nir Felder to help realize his conception.
On January 28th, Royston will debut a new band at the Jazz Gallery called “Cold Moon Road.” This band is made up of many of Rudy’s friends and collaborators from Ben Allison’s band “Man Size Safe,” including Michael Blake on Saxophone, Steve Cardenas on Guitar, and Ben Allison on bass. Added to the mix is Hank Roberts on cello, who Royston has played with on a variety of Bill Frisell’s projects. Allison’s own compositional milieu is certainly rock-influenced, but also has a certain melodic softness, impressionistic beauty, and a pastoral folksiness that Rudy’s drumming style compliments beautifully. Be sure to catch this band, playing Rudy’s compositions here at the Jazz Gallery on Thursday, January 28th.
Rudy Royston and Cold Moon Road play The Jazz Gallery on Thursday, January 28th, 2016. The group features Mr. Royston on drums, Michael Blake on saxophones & bass clarinet, Steve Cardenas on guitar, Hank Roberts on cello, and Ben Allison on bass. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. $15 general admission (FREE for members) for each set. Purchase tickets here.