Charles Rumback’s trio reconciles freedom and lyricism on June Holiday | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Charles Rumback’s trio reconciles freedom and lyricism on June Holiday 

click to enlarge Charles Rumback

Charles Rumback

Jacob Hand

Like many other participants in Chicago’s contemporary jazz scene, drummer Charles Rumback is both a sideman and a leader. Whether backing singer-songwriters such as Steve Dawson and Angela James, playing space-bound Americana with guitarist Ryley Walker, swinging behind jazz saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, or leading this trio with bassist John Tate and pianist Jim Baker, he sustains momentum and adds atmospheric accents without hogging the spotlight. The three pieces that he wrote for June Holiday, the trio’s third album, invite the listener to appreciate his accompanists’ strengths. While Rumback restricts himself to subtle accents on his tune “Here & Now,” Tate fluently articulates the piece’s dynamic shifts and harmonic framework; the molasses pace of “Burning Daylight” seems tailor-made to showcase Baker’s ruminative method of working through a ballad’s improvisational potential. Baker, who spends most of his time working in totally free settings these days, contributes three compositions as well, and their fleetly stated, elegantly constructed melodies showcase Rumback’s light but propulsive touch when playing at quicker tempos. Tate only brings one tune, “Hard Goodbye,” but the way that he and Baker exchange melancholy phrases over Rumback’s rustling brushwork makes it the album’s emotional center of gravity. Drummers are often evaluated by how good they make the rest of the group sound; part of Rumback’s genius as a bandleader is that in the group he’s put together, everyone has everyone else’s back.   v

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