A Trombonist Who Mixes Mali with Monk

Last night I had trouble sleeping. I tossed and turned and eventually got up. That’s when I read about Roswell Rudd, American Trombonist and Renaissance man. A story in the WSJ profiled this prolific musical experimenter, who travels to Mali and the Caribbean in search of new beats. Rudd is one of jazz’s greatest trombonists, and he just finished up three weeks in China playing with opera singer Li Xuai. Then he’ll fly off to Mongolia to play with a 35-piece orchestra using indigenous instruments.

What I love about this guy is how he is so interested in the music of other countries and how he jumps right in and mixes it up with musicians from everywhere. He made a record called “Malicool” with African star Toumani Diabate, who plays the kora, a stringed instrument from West Africa. He’s always been a champion of Thelonius Monk, co-leading groups that play his music. It’s a great fit, Monk and Mali.

Like Rudd, I am fascinated by African and Caribbean music. He sums it up well in the story, explaining why he loves these collaborations: “I just sing on the trombone and put all the colors I can into it. [these projects] enable me to bring more of what’s possible in terms of melody and rhythm.”