The Rhythm Runners’ Prohibition Era jazz is such infectious fun it could almost make you wish the 21st Amendment had never been repealed. —Dick Stein, Jazz DJ, KPLU FM Seattle, Tacoma
PROHIBITION ERA JAZZ
A chance meeting in 2012 between Seattle guitarist Greg Ruby and New York multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lichtman ignited the flame for the Rhythm Runners. As strangers in a shoebox-sized music venue in Brooklyn, Litchman and Ruby struck up a conversation about their shared love of vintage jazz. Lichtman exclaimed, “Are you Greg Ruby…from Seattle? I’m supposed to call you tomorrow about playing on my upcoming tour!” Just hours before, someone had recommended Ruby to Lichtman. With that coincidence as an auspicious sign, Litchman and Ruby joined forces and the Rhythm Runners were born, joined by trumpeter Gordon Au from New York, and trombonist Charlie Halloran and bassist Cassidy Holden, both from New Orleans.
Dennis Lichtman (clarinet, New York) is at the heart of the New York traditional-jazz scene. He leads the legendary Tuesday night jam session at Mona’s in Manhattan, described by the Wall Street Journal as “ground zero for an emerging late-night scene of young swing and traditional jazz players.” Recently, Dennis released a CD with his western swing band, The Brain Cloud, and has been touring internationally playing fiddle and clarinet with roots guitarist/songwriter Pokey LaFarge.
Gordon Au (trumpet, New York), called “comfortable in any idiom and fearless” by music writer Michael Steinman, embodies a fusion of tradition and modernity. During a fellowship residency with the world-renowned Monk Institute, he performed with no less than 23 Grammy Award-winners, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Ellis Marsalis, Benny Golson, and Terence Blanchard. He is a sought-after trumpeter in the New York area, playing with such groups as Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band at Birdland, the Dan Levinson Quintet, Baby Soda Jazz Band, and with his own group, the Grand St. Stompers, at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Charlie Halloran (trombone, New Orleans) was pulled off a Mardi Gras float on St. Charles Avenue in 2009 by the Squirrel Nut Zippers, with whom he still tours. Named a Downbeat Magazine 2013 Rising Star, and one of OffBeat Magazine’s best trombonists in 2014, Charlie performs regularly in New Orleans with Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, the Palmetto Bug Stompers, the Panorama Jazz Band, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. He is also thrilled to have performed with the inimitable Allen Toussaint, beloved indie rockers the Walkmen and Calexico, as well as soul music legends, the O’Jays.
Cassidy Holden (bass, New Orleans) is a bassist and rhythm section player performing traditional jazz and Delta blues. Cassidy can be heard across the U.S. and Europe as a sideman in the company of The Loose Marbles, Gordon Webster, Luke Winslow-King, Dan Levinson, and leading his own group, Cassidy and the New Orleans Kids.
Greg Ruby (guitar, Seattle) specializes in a range of jazz traditions, playing Hot Club, prohibition-era, New Orleans-style and European café jazz. Described as “truly hot jazz” (Vintage Guitar Magazine), his CD, Look Both Ways, celebrating the 100th birthday of guitarist Django Reinhardt and featuring 12 original compositions, reached #1 on the Roots Music Review jazz chart. Formerly of Pearl Django and Hot Club Sandwich, Greg leads The Greg Ruby Quartet, a Hot Club jazz group; collaborates with New York and New Orleans musicians on The Rhythm Runners, a prohibition-era jazz band; plays European cafe jazz with Bric-a-brac Musette Trio; and is a member of The Post Alley Ramblers, an old school New Orleans-style jazz quartet. In 2013, he received funding from King County arts agency 4Culture to create new work for The Rhythm Runners to be performed at Seattle’s historic Washington Hall.