A 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival Preview: Charles Rumback


This Is Jazz Today: A 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival preview, in sound & vision.


Charles Rumback

charles rumbackOne way or the other, I will be at this show.  I will be (likely) badly hungover and dropping f-bombs at the sun for possessing the audacity to shine its light on me, but I will be at the Von Freeman Pavilion on Sunday at the ungodly hour of 1:10pm to see Charles Rumback.

I really can’t tell you what it’s gonna sound like.  Rumback has a fascinating diversity of projects, each with their own distinct personality, often sounding beholden to many genres simultaneously, which, I suppose, is the primary quality to transcend them all.  His most recent release is the 2015 album In the New Year, a recording that has come closest to finding a middle ground between his tendency toward rough edges and an adept craftsmanship of sharp melodies.  This music possesses a warped beauty, where melodies waver and tempos stretch and contract with a curious flow.  The album’s personnel of guitarist Jeff Parker, bass clarinetist Jason Stein, alto saxophonist Caroline Davis and bassist John Tate were birds-of-a-feather for this kind of odds-evens blended imagery.  Here’s a cool video of the album’s opening track…

But here’s where it gets complicated trying to predict what this show will be like.

Rumback has some earlier recordings on the Clean Feed Records label, and they were right at home with the predilection toward dissonance and opaque melodicism.  And then there’s his intoxicating Colorlist, an ambient electronica collaboration with Charles Gorczynski.  There’s also his membership in the avant-rock trio Stirrup, along with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and bassist Nick Macri.

And then of a more recent vintage is his contribution to the Whirlpool trio, with saxophonist Caroline Davis and guitarist Jeff Swanson, where they dive into the deep end of a melody and don’t bother ever coming up for air.  This, actually, may provide some hints with what’s to come at their 2016 CJF performance, because trumpeter/cornetist Ron Miles will be sitting in on this one.  Miles, who pretty much should be universally known as one of the best modern artists on his instrument, possesses a sound that proves dreams have souls, and whether it’s in collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Myra Melford or with Whirlpool on their 2015 release Dancing on the Inside, Miles locates the heartbeat of that melody and makes it his own, like blood.

Joining Rumback and Ron Miles for this CJF set are saxophonists Greg Ward and Tony Malaby, pianist Jim Baker and bassist John Tate, each of whom are reason enough to show up as if nothing else I’ve said thus far has floated your boat.

Ultimately, what it all boils down to is here’s an outstanding musician who exemplifies the boundless creativity one can express if they just open themselves up to all possibilities and influences and crosscurrents of ideas, whether their own or inspired by their collaborators.

This show takes place on Sunday, September 4th at 1:10pm at the Von Freeman Pavilion.

Read more about the artist and the upcoming show on the Chicago Jazz Festival site.


The 38th annual Chicago Jazz Festival is taking place in (and around) Chicago’s Millennium Park, Wednesday August 31st – Sunday September 4th.

Read more about why you should be a part of the audience by visiting the official Chicago Jazz Festival site

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