This Thursday, April 12, at The Jazz Gallery, drummer-composer Jochen Rueckert debuts his latest quartet, a group with which he has recently released an album—Charm Offensive (Pirouet). His original music is hard to categorize, and yet firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, maintaining both a high level of group interplay and classic swing. We caught up with Rueckert over email to talk about his nearly 20-year career in New York as a sideman playing with the likes of Sam Yahel, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, and even a single gig with Pat Metheny at Jazz Baltica, in 2003.
The Jazz Gallery: How did you meet Mark Turner and what role does he play in your current group?
Jochen Rueckert: I met Mark at a restaurant gig he was playing in Soho, where I sat in, around 1996. He plays the role of tenor saxophone player and booking-mail-click-bait in my band.
TJG: What do you think of “the state of jazz” in NYC today?
JR: It’s fine, like it kind of always has been.
TJG: What do you think of hipsters in Brooklyn?
JR: Fuck those guys and their beards. Thankfully I rarely [have to] go to Brooklyn. Wear some socks already.
TJR: Can you speak about your early upbringing and relationship with the drums?
JR: Well, I grew up in Germany, my older brother plays the piano and my dad could be found lying on the carpet blasting Bach in the living room on the weekends. I don’t quite remember how I came to the drums—I was very little and can’t remember all that much from back then, but there was never any other job or instrument considered, really. My first (paid) gig was, of course, playing with my brother somewhere, as a teenager. Early influences were mostly mid 60’s Miles Davis quintet, some of the Marsalis brothers’ music and other acoustic jazz-renaissance-type early 90’s music.
TJG: You’ve worked with a lot accomplished guitarists, like Mike Moreno for this show.
JR: Well, Mike and Lage Lund have been “passing the pick” in this band, and Mike is on the last record. Lage was originally scheduled but has a very important doctor’s appointment that day he forgot about. (He is still figuring that whole ” calendar thing.” He told me that in Denmark where he’s from, the government usually provides a personal assistant to all jazz musician, that takes care of scheduling, nutrition and the like).
TJG: Do you like doom metal?
JR: No. It bores me and has no emotional value for me. I listen to other types of metal, something sometimes described as “grindcore” and “mathcore” because it’s interesting; and more melodic stuff like the Deftones.