Picturing him as the only white guy on the bandstand in the 1960s after watching him at work in a show band in the Jewish Catskills, I once characterized trombonist Roswell Rudd as “the sort of unassuming fellow who gets along fine with everybody.” He has a way of fitting in musically as well, and it probably helps that one of his day gigs was working for musicologist Alan Lomax. Rudd’s latest collaboration is with the young, conservatory-trained Mongolian singer Badma Khanda and her five-member ensemble, which includes a throat singer, horse-head fiddle and bass, and instruments similar to flute, dulcimer, and zither. Rudd calls the results “art folk,” an apt phrase for music that’s often stark but never less than beguiling. Twinning with Khanda, matching the throat singer’s gargle with growled multiphonics, or just floating over the strings, Rudd throws himself into everything with such relish you might be hard-pressed to tell which tunes are traditional and which are his without glancing at the credits. The Buryats meet him halfway, occasionally recalling Django or country swing, even boogie-woogie on the delirious title track, where Khanda beats it eight-to-the-bar and Rudd quotes “Buttons and Bows.” East is East, and West is West, and wherever the four winds blow—that’s not just a quote, it’s his philosophy.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 25, 2005