Rudy Royston, 303 (Greenleaf Music)
In his debut as a leader the young drummer from Denver (area code 303) fronts a septet of his generation’s more adventurous players. The eclecticism of the music encompasses Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” the Mozart motet “Ave Verum Corpus,” a drum feature inspired by Elvin Jones, and homage to Denver trumpeter Ron Miles. Even in “Bownze,” the Jones tribute, Royston refrains from drum exhibitionism. Throughout, he melds his work with the septet, which includes two bassists—Yasushi Nakamura and Mimi Jones, the ingenious saxophonist Jon Irabagon, Australian trumpeter Nadja Noordhuis, pianist Sam Harris and guitarist Nir Felder. Royston’s impressive compositions and arrangements provide ensemble unity.