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Charles Rumback says trust, friendship at the heart of ‘Seven Bridges’

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Jacob Hand
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Charles Rumback's "Seven Bridges" is out now on vinyl and on digital streaming platforms.

"Seven Bridges" is the latest album from Chicago-based drummer and composer Charles Rumback.

The former Hutchison resident recorded the album over the course of a prolonged period of time, starting in 2016. The acclaimed album that resulted features a cast that includes John Hughes, Krystle Warren and the late Ron Miles.

Rumback recently spoke with KMUW from his home in Chicago.

Interview Highlights

Part of this record, "Seven Bridges," is the result of your friendship with producer and musician John Hughes and, I think, this desire that both of you have to respect tradition on one hand but also move music forward on the other hand.

We had been trying to find a way of blending the electronic music world that John lives in and operated in for many years as an artist and also while running Hefty Records. And then the jazz world and that whole language and community. I think me and John, for various reasons, worked well together. We don't really think about genres. We can relate to a lot of different things. It all lives in there for better or worse.

We started on the two vocal tunes ["Fall Dog Bombs The Moon," "Regina"] first because my friend, Krystle Warren, who is also from Kansas, was coming over from where she lives in Paris, to do some shows. That was 2016. So it was her and Nick Macri and John and I. Those were the ones we did skeleton tracks for.

And then everything went crazy because I had twins that were born three and a half months early. And my life got kind of upside down. So I had all these plans and ideas about what I wanted to do for this music. And inevitably, they didn't go that way. And I was gonna just cancel everything and say, "This is too much." But John and Ron Miles said, "Let's just do it. We're gonna make it good, whatever it is."

Ron was amazingly supportive and everybody that I worked with on that album are some of my closest friends; everybody involved was an integral part of it.

It sounds like there was a lot of trust involved in in making the record. At the end of the day, though, it's your name on the album cover, and you're the artist in question. I would have to think that at some point if you didn't like something or you didn't feel comfortable with something, you're going to speak up. But it sounds like you really didn't have any of that happening. It was very much like collaborative and listening to each other and kind of taking that next step into the unknown.

That's totally true. I almost never say things in terms of direction with these people especially. And it's because I don't need to, and I think there's a certain level of trust and confidence individually and collectively; that has to be in place for that to work. They know that I'm asking them to do what they do. I'm not asking them to come like sub for somebody else, or to come even like cover quote unquote, a part. It's more like I want them to be there but you know what they bring to it.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.