Chamber jazz isn't a useful term but sometimes it is the only one closest available. Americana also isn't a useful term but sometimes it is the only one closest and anyway similarly amenable to some sort of bird's eye view. If you created a Venn diagram stripped down from the two preceding sentences Day would fit somewhere there and in the evening - probably around dusk.
Imagine pre-jazz whatever chamber jazz might have been like if that isn't too paradoxical a thought. Because Day sounds like how you would imagine pre-records American jazz might approximate a long way from New Orleans. But there are no ragtime or quasi-classical sounds at all here and yet still sounds as if belonging well before the 20th century.
Maybe it is the rural parlour music feel in the arranging that conjures such a subliminal first coat. Drummer Rudy Royston's Flatbed Buggy isn't a new band at all. It has already established a sound that means something and that sound sits alongside some of Bill Frisell's work without being the same, just compatible.
Most of the tunes are Royston's. Day is a long play listen - usually a good thing and it's not a patience requirement - each piece seems to fit inside a vision rather than interlock in a cryptic mechanical sense or reflective of a mysterious theorem of the composer's own oblique design.
Royston, who is in his fifties, was born in Fort Worth, Texas and grew up in Denver, Colorado. The setting here is once again quintet - Royston with bass clarinettist John Ellis, accordionist Gary Versace, the Frisellian cellist Hank Roberts superb last year on Pipe Dream's Blue Roads and double bassist Joe Martin - who was on the excellent Mark Turner album Lathe of Heaven in 2014. We chilled to Martin and Royston swinging with Art Hirahara on Balance Point more recently. Described by issuing label Greenleaf Music as ''a musical evocation of Royston’s youth spent in rural Texas'' the album is dedicated to Rudy's brother Ritchie who passed away last year and to his erstwhile bandstand bro cornetist Ron Miles who also died in 2022 and with whom Royston worked on such work as 1990s album My Cruel Heart.
Joe Martin's 'Limeni Village' and Hank Roberts' 'A.M. Hours' fit well with Royson's writing style and do not jar.
Flatbed Buggy's first album was in 2018 featuring the same line-up on the self-titled release. One of the best jazz releases this year - we will certainly include the campfire sound of Day in our next best-of overall update when it is published in late-June. Rudy Royston photo: John Rogers/rudyroyston.com
MORE READING AND LISTENING:
· Royston is on Bill Frisell's Valentine - review, 2020…
· … also on Rudresh Mahanthappa's Hero Trio - review, 2020
· … and head all the way back to Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers (2010, Savoy) that shares congeniality and a sense of independently arrived at collegiality with the future Flatbed Buggy approach.