Rudy Royston, drums
John Ellis, bass clarinet, saxes
Gary Versace, accordion
Hank Roberts, cello
Joe Martin, bass
Rudy Royston, first-call drummer with Bill Frisell, JD Allen, Dave Douglas and a host of other jazz greats, has honed a thoroughly engaging voice as a composer and bandleader with his compelling debut 303 (2014) and the raw and bracing trio follow-up Rise of Orion (2016). Flatbed Buggy, his third album as a bandleader, is rich in tonal contrast and mood yet steeped in the supple, enduring swing and groove that has driven his writing and playing from the start.
Royston leads a compact, almost chamber-like quintet featuring Gary Versace (accordion), John Ellis (woodwinds), Hank Roberts (cello) and Joe Martin (bass). There’s an endless amount to discover: the melodic development and final triumphant letting-loose of the opening “Soul Train”; the hint of New Orleans rhythm in “Flatbed Buggy”; the picture of innocence in a young child twirling, on “Twirler,” with a startlingly brilliant tempo shift into slow swing; or the fast, twisty theme and saxophone showcase of “Bobble Head.”
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