Forty-four-year-old German-born drummer/composer Jochen Rueckert has released five swinging and visceral jazz records—all with top New York City players, and all tinged with the drummer’s left-of-center approach. Stars and Garters—which refers to awards and medals—is yet another Rueckert jazz side-swipe of sorts, performed by Rueckert, Chris Cheek (tenor saxophone), Brian Charette (organ), and Jeff Miles and Yotam Silberstein (guitars). The album features original material and covers of songs by Deftones, Ryan Powers, and the Breeders.
“Mind Parasite” sounds like detective jazz, all perky 8th-notes and driving guitar rhythms—like Bill Frisell destroying a Texas chicken shack. “Radiolake” is the opposite, with mellow bongo-type beats and Hammond B3 sounds. “Corey and Trevor” establishes the album’s straight-ahead jazz pulse, as the drummer rips Afro-Cuban grooves with stellar panache. “Finger Finger” is another sweltering but mellow swinger with Rueckert switching between his 26” Istanbul 30th Anniversary, 24” Spizzichino, and Craig Lauritsen 22” Rustico ride cymbals (augmented by early 1960s 16” A Zildjian hi-hats, a 1960s Ludwig three-piece set, a 1930s-era WFL Ludwig snare, Remo heads, and Vater Super Jazz Wood Tip Hickory drumsticks). The title track sounds like party night at a Shriners Club, with its serene drums, tenor, and organ. Rueckert plays with delightful color on the uptempo “Obstacles.” His cymbal touch and tone are beautiful and elegant.
Stars and Garters closes with the Breeders’ “Cannonball,” with Rueckert chugging between sprightly rim-click patterns and chunky bell sounds within an off-beat groove. Like the rest of the album, it’s a highly personalized, breezy slice of hard-swinging fun. (jochenrueckert.bandcamp.com)