The Glaswegian label Optimo Music has recently re-issued a rare gem of a record decades after its last pressing – Peter Zummo’s 1981 album ‘Zummo With An X’. Zummo, the avant-garde multi-instrumentalist member of the New York DownTown Ensemble who frequently played trombone on the recordings of Arthur Russell, caught the attention of Optimo’s JD Twitch in the late 1990s when he randomly found his debut, fell in love with its melancholy beauty and has since led the task of re-issuing the album on vinyl.
Thanks to Optimo and their re-mastering of the material this is the first time in thirty years that many will have heard Zummo’s work at its best, as the original run was limited to just five hundred copies in 1985. Comprised of eight numerically denoted tracks ‘Zummo With An X’ is an enchanting release that works through intervals of Zummo’s trombone playing, mingled with Arthur Russell’s seminal cello work and Bill Ruyle’s tabla, to create a beguiling journey through the mind of a lesser mentioned but profoundly talented modern instrumentalist.
Twitch himself sums up the appeal rather nicely, saying that it was the one-track B side of the album entitled Song IV that took his breath away and “remains to this day one of my most listened to records. Despite the minimal elements I hear more in it every time I listen to it, and sometimes the perfect interaction between cello, trombone and percussion sounds like the voice of Arthur being beamed in from the ether. It is twenty minutes of sheer bliss that feels as if it could go on for twice as long.”
You can stream a clip of Song IV here via the Optimo Music Soundcloud.
The full release is available now on Optimo Music.