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A Review of Rudder’s “Matorning”

Rudder: MatorningMatorning should carry a warning sticker, something like “Listening to this record while in public may make you look like a complete lunatic”. The grooves are that infectious.

This is a jazz record in the widest and best sense, and it features an improvisational groove music that swings like crazy. But it features few solos in the traditional sense and sports more of a four man rhythm/melody section with each player’s parts and improvisations locking together to create the whole funky mess.

Keith Carlock is rightly considered the “drummer du jour” and his righteous swing is all over this record. It’s clearly audible how much fun he and the other guys had making this music. There is a noticeable Bonham influence in his drumming, and if you ever fantasized what John Bonham might have sounded like if he were a jazz drummer, this is a record for you!

Having first heard Tim Lefebvre‘s bass playing with Dave Fiuczynski and the uproarious duo Boomish, I looked forward to this record immensely. Lefebvre has a deep groove sensibility and clear desire to find the dirtiest, funkiest bass tones known to man. There’s no surprise that he has been so in demand, having worked with Chris Poter, Patti Austin, David Binney, Wayne Kranyz, Uri Caine, John Mayer, Chris Botti, Jamie Cullum, Till Bronner, Jim Beard, the Saturday Night Live band and played on numerous TV and movie soundtrack sessions.

On this record, Lefebvre mostly plays a Fender Jazz bass strung with flatwounds through vintage analog effects and a miked Ampeg B-15. He creates some nasty grooves and clearly has a ball playing in this band. Who wouldn’t? He has an improvisational approach throughout playing a part in developing and mutating the band’s grooves.

This is a record probably unlike one you’ve heard before and Rudder completely avoids any New York conceptual cleverness (as sometimes associated with this kind of eclectism) with their joyous groove and sheer audible love of sound they generate.

Henry Hey on keyboards is a new name to me, and he brings exactly the right kind of slightly unhinged, well-oiled, funky organ sounds this band needs. He’s just as likely though to play thoughtful Fender Rhodes but whatever he plays, he grooves.

Chris Cheek on saxophones is as often found playing in the rhythm section as playing melodies or solos. Sometimes you hear a hint of an Ellingtonian section or he summons the spirit of a Lester Young or a Ben Webster when you least expect it.

I particularly enjoyed the opener “3H club” with a groove which reminded me of an Agharta outtake crossed with techno and a Fela Kuti groove. There are some jaw-dropping sounds on this track and, with it, Rudder clearly begins the album as they mean to go on.

“Lucy” features a beautiful saxophone melody, gracefully repeated over Rhodes chords while Lefebvre plays melodic lines like a jazz version of Paul McCartney. Carlock gradually enters and turns up the heat with his most Bonham-esque playing, which swings wonderfully as the tracks finally lets loose as Hey solos on organ. The bass figures at the end of this solo as the saxophone melody takes the song to it’s conclusion.

I listened to the mutant New Orleans groove of “Jackass Surcharge”, and just when I noted the track was just crying out for a great solo, Cheek suddenly entered with his Ben Webster ballad-influenced playing over a groove where you’d least expect it. You have to hear this tune! When Lefebvre stomps on the octaver near the end my mouth dropped wide open (not for the first time).

There are some other lovely touches. “Lucky Beard” has a hint of a behind the beat d’Angelo Voodoo groove before ending up somewhere else entirely. “Daitu” is a seriously rocking riff-based tune. At times there are hints of the way that Lost Tribe successfully threw jazz, mbase, rock and funk into a musical melting pot, but Rudder is coming from a far funkier universe entirely than most people.

And if you’ve never played air drums before, you’re probably about to start!

Matorning Track Listing:

  1. 3H Club
  2. Tokyo Chicken
  3. Lucy
  4. One Note Mosh
  5. Jackass Surcharge
  6. Innit
  7. Lucky Beard
  8. Daitu
  9. Neppe
  10. CDL

Matorning credits:

  • Chris Cheek: saxophone
  • Henry Hey: keyboards
  • Tim Lefebvre: bass
  • Keith Carlock: drums

Matorning is available from Nineteen-Eight Records, iTunes and Rudder’s web site