Charles Rumback - Tag Book

Label/Year: ears&eyes Records, 2017

Lineup – Jim Baker: piano; John Tate: acoustic bass; Charles Rumback: drums.


With Tag Book, American drummer-composer Charles Rumback, a mainstay of the Chicago jazz scene, has his second release of the year on ears&eyes label with only nearly six months separating it from the previous release, Three. If the latter was a collection of three original compositions plus a rendition of Andrew Hill’s “Erato”, all of them complying with a 3/4 time signature, the newest album comprises five homogeneous pieces executed by the same trio with Jim Baker on piano and John Tate on acoustic bass.

The latter sets immediately the groove on “Convulsive”, an unhurried and impeccably harmonized piece that boasts a certain ambiguity in its thoughtful splendor, making us search throughout. It’s all about color and texture and almost never pulse. Baker plays delicate phrases sketched with sparse notes, letting the music breathe freely. His solo, built with discernible undercurrent melodies, starts with an allusion to “Caravan”, while Rumback’s lightsome brushwork supports Tate’s explorative conversation.

Stanley Cowell’s “Equipoise” was transformed into a congruent post-bop exercise packed with well-oiled interactive mechanisms, lustrous melodies and harmonies, and the conciliatory improvisational visions from Baker and Tate. The bright drumming of the bandleader veers into Latin for brief moments during the pianist’s solo.

Swinging in a kinky way, “Ash Wednesday” sets sober piano lines and well-timed chords against the anxious bass-drums coalition that establishes the bottom platform. Even if not fervently hasty, the tune runs at a nimble pace, differing considerably from the following track, “We Left Green Briar Park”, which embraces a sweet, nonchalant idleness within a resilient mind-set.

Rumback’s strong presence behind the drum kit manifests on the closing track, “In the New Year”, a composition assembled with a quasi-insubstantial pianistic airiness working over unheralded drum chops and corpulent bass textures as in a malleable three-coordinated system.

Although peak moments are not easily spotted on this record, Rumback's strong will of doing something legitimate is quite visible. He brings a signature brand of unconfined poetic jazz, accomplishing the mission at many different levels.

      Grade  A-

      Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Convulsive ► 02 – Equipoise ► 05 – In the New Year