Tag Book review at All About Jazz

Tag Book review at El Intruso

Free Jazz Blog review of Tag Book

Downbeat feature Emphasizing Structure by Aaron Cohen


There’s a moment near the end of the 20+ minute track “Three Storey Birdhouse / Right Reasons” that acts as a moment of convergence for all of the elements at play in this career-defining live performance from Charles Rumback. This sprawling piece incorporates the freedom of the drummer’s Clean Feed Records days and the dissonance of his work with Stirrup, and has a melodic focus that mirrors his work with the Whirlpool ensemble. But it’s when Rumback guides pianist Jim Baker and bassist John Tate into ambient territory, with a murmur of drums and hush of soft cymbal crashes, that the piece begins to feel like something of a creative timeline for the musician, with audible touchstones of all of his work to date. This live set, recorded at the Chicago venue Constellation, doesn’t require a listener to be familiar with those references—or even to have heard Rumback’s work at all—to enjoy this wonderful recording. But the callbacks are a nice bonus for anyone lucky enough to have followed Rumback’s wandering path through the modern jazz landscape. – Dave Sumner

(source: The Best Jazz on Bandcamp, June 2017)

Versatile Chicago drummer Charles Rumback celebrates the release of a beautiful new piano trio album

by Peter Margasak

Anyone that follows the Chicago music scene closely has surely encountered drummer Charles Rumback, one of the most versatile and tasteful musicians in town, a player who moves easily between jazz, free improvisation, rock, and folk communities. His hard work ethic often means his own projects convene only sporadically, and his regular collaborations with musicians who don’t live in Chicago—like Denver trumpeter Ron Miles and New York saxophonist Tony Malaby—further limits their activity. A little over three years ago he formed an impressive piano trio with Jim Baker and New York bassist John Tate that underlines his subtle touch and ruminative sensibility better than most of his groups. Because Tate doesn’t live in town, the combo hasn’t performed much, but what I’ve caught by the band has been quietly staggering. Last year Rumback and Tate revealed their deep rapport and intuitive connection on a duo album called Daylight Savings, which mixes originals with a couple of standards and a striking, unexpected reading of Messiaen’s O Sacreum Convivium. Now the trio is finally dropping its debut, Threes (Ears & Eyes), where the cross talk is sublime and the refined melodic impulses gently gorgeous. If nothing else the setting provides a simpatico showcase for the lyric, post-Bill Evans side of Baker—a part of his aesthetic usually hidden in free-improv settings—who solos on Rumback’s tender themes with endless invention and harmonic splendor. While the medley “Three Storey Birdhouse/Right Reasons” conveys a ballad feel, there’s plenty of thorniness in the drummer’s wonderfully draggy, prodding machinations—swinging and stammering at once—while Tate plays at a nifty pace that generates tension and the pianist accelerates and decelerates at will. The album also includes a wonderful spin through the brooding Andrew Hill obscurity “Erato,” showing just how far ahead of his time the composer was.  

(source: Chicago Reader, June 15, 2017)


Charles Rumback – Erato is the ‘Track of the Day’ at All About Jazz.

(source: All About Jazz, June 9, 2017)

In the New Year review by Audiophile Audition.

In the New Year & Dancing on the Inside reviews by Peter Margasak for Down Beat.

In the New Year featured on the Best Jazz of 2015 list by the Telegraph:

Drummer and composer Charles Rumback is a veteran of the thriving Chicago jazz scene, of which we get only occasional glimpses in the UK. This CD, made with a quintet of younger but like-minded musicians, reveals a ruminative and exploratory personality. All the numbers bar two are composed by him, and none rises louder than a conversational tone, or moves quicker than medium swing. Yet without being overtly striking the music is remarkably engaging, partly because the four players are so in tune with Rumback’s way of thinking.  At its core is an old-fashioned emphasis on goal-directed melody, carried along by harmonies which are remarkably traditional. Several of the numbers end on a simple major chord, not something you hear often in jazz. What makes this plainness interesting is the way the players catch the quietly ecstatic vein in Rumback’s melodies, each player ornamenting it in his or her own way. The music points to the rich heritage of African-American music in Chicago, from gospel to the rhapsodic freedom of those improvising musicians associated with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Added to this is a softer element, captured in the intriguing harmonic side-lights of guitarist Jeff Parker. Some will find it all too mild-mannered, and there is perhaps a falling-off in the later numbers. But at its best moments the album has a quiet, lyrical eloquence.  ★★★☆☆ IH