August Love Song is the remarkable collaboration between impeccable vocal stylist Heather Masse and octogenarian trombone maverick Roswell Rudd. Masse, the New England Conservatory of Music-trained vocalist, is member of the Billboard-charting folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys and a regular on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion show. Rudd burst on the free jazz scene in the 1960s; his ensemble work with Archie Shepp and forays into African and world music inform his explorations in sound and rhythm to the present.
Rudd and Masse met when they both appeared on the Prairie Home show, were surprised to discover they were neighbors in the Catskills in rural New York, and quickly found they had a strong musical connection that bridged their ages. Weekly jam sessions in Rudd’s living room became the impetus for August Love Song, recorded at Rudd’s home to capture the free-and-easy feel of the music. Joined by Rolf Sturm (guitar) and Mark Helias (contra bass), the group alternates betweens originals by Rudd, his partner, composer Verna Gillis, and Masse, including “Love Song For August” (August is Masse’s son) as well as improvised arrangements of mutual favorites by Gigi Gryce (“Social Call”), the Gershwins (“Love Is Here To Stay”), Duke Ellington (“Mood Indigo”) and Dizzy Gillespie (“Con Alma”). While separated by two generations, Masse and Rudd find common ground in the interplay and joy of jazz creation.