The Josh Roseman Unit, or JRU, plays thinking music you can party to. Muscular and intuitive, this all-star ensemble creates both stunning originals and retranslations of the best of the century’s pop music, melding influences in an act of futuristic musical alchemy. Roseman is not content to merely stand the jazz idiom on its head – this satirical deconstructionist wants to kick it over, pick up the pieces, and build something beautiful out of the rubble. Duck, ‘cause his trombone is coming right at you.
On the JRU’s debut recording, “CHERRY”, Burt Bacharach’s mystic kitsch sits side by side with Sun Ra’s 50’s Doo-Wop, against a backdrop of haunting originals by the upstart trombone revivalist. In an early review of “CHERRY,” WIRED magazine wrote, “Twisted… this Benny Goodman-meets-Blade Runner project obscures all marching band associations. Thirteen eccentric players clash beautifully on one blindingly Day-Glo rant after another.” Combining top flight musicianship with comedian wit, Roseman guides his band of funk marauders through a dizzying array of cuts by Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Nirvana, Marvin Gaye, and Sun Ra among others.
This long awaited debut, out February 2002 as the first joint release from the pioneering Knitting Factory Records and rising star Velour Recordings, finds Roseman helming a free-wheeling ensemble of master musicians. Featuring the late trumpet great Lester Bowie (to whom this record has become a posthumous tribute), MMW organist John Medeski, Dave Fiuczynski on guitar, and drummer Joey Baron, among others, the line up on “CHERRY” is a testament to Roseman’s gift for collaboration. As co-founder of Groove Collective and the Brooklyn Funk Essentials, and co-conspirator with the likes of The Roots, Cibo Matto, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Don Byron, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, and Charlie Hunter, Roseman has a history steeped in the deepest, and most eclectic, of grooves.
“If jazz is a religion,” notes Greg Tate in the liner notes to the record, “then Josh Roseman is surely a sinner. Jazz has never been more in need of sinners than now.”
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