The basic story behind drummer Rudy Royston’s first album sounds like that of many sidemen in jazz. He moved to the New York area. His talent got him into bands led by higher-profile artists like Bill Frisell, JD Allen, Ben Allison and Dave Douglas. And when it came time to document his own composing and arranging, he could rely on the network he had tapped into. Douglas issued Royston’s album 303 earlier this month on his own record label, Greenleaf Music.
But consider that Royston is 43, an age when similarly ambitious top-tier jazz musicians have often already waxed several recordings. In fact, he’s not even the first musician in his household to make a record under his own name.
In 2011, pianist Shamie Royston, his wife, recorded a trio date with Ivan Taylor on bass and Rudy on drums. The resulting album Portraits came out in 2012 with little fanfare, though it did catch the ear of the New York Times critic Ben Ratliff, who praised its maturity, calling it “a first album that probably would have been a second or third one 10 years ago.” Continue reading