When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and Eastern Europe opened up to the West, including the quick merger of East and West Germany, the jazz drummer Jochen Ruecker (born 1975) from Düren near Cologne, was just approaching his teens. He studied music at the Conservatory in Cologne from 1993-1995, then soon after graduation he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he is based.
Rueckert’s debut album “Introduction” was released in 1998, and it included Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder, and Hayden Chisholm—now, all highly acclaimed leaders. His third release as leader “Charm Offensive” was released on Pirouet Records in 2016, and this album features a fresh cast of New York’s best and relatively younger players, including tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, guitarist Mike Moreno, and bassist Orlando le Fleming (originally from Birmingham, England).
Turner, the saxophonist, who was born in Ohio and raised in Southern California, was also on Rueckert’s well received second recording as leader “Somewhere Meeting Nobody” (2011), also released on Pirouet. He helps bring a special looseness and warm comfort to the overall sound, and particularly on the haunting ballad “The Alarmists” and on another highlight, “Purring Excellence.”
Moreno, the guitarist, has also played with Rueckert since the late 90s, when he moved to New York, from Houston, Texas. He veers from quick and tight to a lighter and more fleeting touch, especially on “Purring Excellence” which is one of three tracks that he made in close collaboration with Rueckert —the pieces are based on carnatic music, a genre of Indian classical music. The title track is one of these three, started by Ruecker. He leaves the soloing to the other musicians throughout the album. A modest leader, always off in front of the track at the starting gate, but then he falls behind the front line, only opening up behind the soloists to push the music into its many moments of sheer exuberance.
The Jochen Rueckert Quartet will make a short European tour for “Charm Offensive” from mid January till the end of the month, opening in Milano, Italy and ending in Vitroles, in the south of France. Their complete tour is listed below.
Listen/purchase album: Pirouet Records
Sunday, Jan. 15th—Blue Note Milano, Milano, Italy
Monday, Jan. 16th—Cockney London Pub, Padova, Italy
Tuesday, Jan. 17th—Le Cantina de L’Arena, Verona, Italy
Wednesday, Jan. 18th—Jazz Dock, Prague, Czech Republic
Thursday, Jan. 19th—Porgy and Bess, Vienna, Austria
Friday, Jan. 20th—Stockwerk, Graz, Austria
Saturday, Jan. 21st—Kircheim Teck, Germany
Sunday, Jan. 22nd—Altes Pfandhaus, Koeln, Germany
Tuesday, Jan. 24th—IMFP, Salon de Provence, France
Thursday, Jan. 26th—Cri du Port, Marseille, France
Friday, Jan. 27th—Chorus, Laussanne, Switzerland
Saturday, Jan. 28th—Moulin a Jazz, Vitrolles, France
Text: Tony Ozuna
Images courtesy of: Herzog Promotion