“The band’s cozy approach to interplay is spot-on, harking to pastoral beauty … utterly refreshing.”
– Jim Macnie, 

“Wonderful chamber jazz writing, with moods ranging from bebop to Americana.”
– Paul de Barros, 
Downbeat Hot Box

“The leader wields as much power from his dynamic and often delicate drumming as he does from his enticing compositions, which elicit a sepia-toned, cinematic allure.”
– John Murph, 
Downbeat Hot Box

Released: May 5, 2023



Royston (drums)
John Ellis (bass clarinet)
Hank Roberts (cello)
Gary Versace (accordion)
Joe Martin (bass)


Rudy Royston, first-call drummer with Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, J.D. Allen, Rudresh Mahanthappa and a host of others, is proud to present DAY, his fifth release for Greenleaf Music. DAY is the second outing from Flatbed Buggy, the adventurous, sonically varied small group that Royston premiered on the acclaimed 2018 album of that name. Marked by the low-register richness of John Ellis on bass clarinet and Hank Roberts on cello, the tonal subtlety and harmonic depth of Gary Versace on accordion and the virtuosic authority of Joe Martin on bass, the band debuted with a musical evocation of Royston’s youth spent in rural Texas. On DAY, with the same lineup intact, Royston captures the turbulent emotional landscape of a day under quarantine.

“This record is a little more aggressive than the first,” Royston says, remarking on what he calls the “dusty” sound of Flatbed Buggy and the comparatively swinging DAY. “I’m playing a little more aggressively because the scenes I’m portraying lend themselves to that. The scenes on the first record are all outdoors so you want to feel that space and air and dust. The scenes on this one, I was inside the whole time.”

Widely praised for its unusual textures and tone colors (“it’s never really a ‘drummer’s record’,” Royston comments), Flatbed Buggy has grown even more cohesive as a unit, and Royston was keen to exploit its resources in full. “They’re all such great composers in this band — I’d be an idiot not to have them write for this!” To that end, Martin’s “Limeni Village” (named for a seaside villa in southern Greece) and Roberts’ enigmatic vamp-based closing track “A.M. Hours” broaden the Flatbed Buggy sound and concept. “I can’t wait to see what John and Gary write for future projects,” Royston enthuses.

Royston’s pieces are alive with melody, rhythmic and polyphonic motion, and improvisational energy. Each carries a specific association to a time of day, from “Morning” at 7am to “Look to the Hills” at noon, from “The Mokes” at 2pm to the straightforwardly named “5:30 Strut” and “Time to Sleep.”

“There is a scripture of hope in the Bible that admonishes us to look to the hills from which comes our help and strength,” Royston writes in his album notes, and this, along with “Keep It Moving,” might be the core lasting message of DAY. Royston heeds that counsel in many ways, through music but also his new and avid pursuit of photography, as he shares in his notes: “I’d set out on landscape and cityscape photo journeys on empty roads, arriving home a few hours later feeling encouraged and strengthened from so many beautiful scenes and visions.” Photography as a means of staying engaged with the world: this was musically motivating as well, helping Royston pull together all that would in the end become DAY.

Royston dedicates DAY to two beloved souls who have passed: his brother Ritchie, and his mentor and musical brother Ron Miles, acclaimed cornetist and composer, pillar of the Denver music scene and inspiration to Royston and so many others. Coming up in Denver under Ron’s wing paved the way for Royston to impact the global jazz scene as he has, both as a leader and charter member of the JD Allen Trio on the releases Graffiti, Americana, Radio Flyer and Love Stone. Royston is also a sought-after sideman with Art Hirahara, Alexa Tarantino, George Colligan, Jon Irabagon, Michelle Lordi and more.

Royston is grateful for the unwavering support of Dave Douglas and Greenleaf Music, which has released Royston’s debut 303 (2014), the raw and bracing trio follow-up Rise of Orion(2016), the celebrated Flatbed Buggy (2018), the 2020 solo drum outing PaNOptic (benefiting the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund) and now DAY. “Greenleaf is more than a label for me,” says Royston, “it’s an artist development family, really supporting the whole musician.”


Rudy Royston, drums
John Ellis, bass clarinet
Hank Roberts, cello
Gary Versace, accordion
Joe Martin, bass

Production Credits:

Produced by Rudy Royston
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Recorded, mixed, and edited by David Kowalski at Teaneck Sound Studios, Paramus, NJ, August, 2022
All songs composed and arranged by Rudy Royston, © 2023 Rudy Royston Publishing (ASCAP)
except “Limeni Village” composed and arranged by Joe Martin, © 2023 Joseph Martin and “A.M. Hours” composed and arranged by Hank Roberts, © 2023 Toad Blink Music (BMI)

Mastered by Kevin Blackler at Blackler Mastering, Brooklyn, NY, October, 2022

This music is dedicated to my late brother Ritchie Royston and my late brother Ron Miles

Thanks to God, Koleby and Kinyah Royston, Clara Royston, Hank, Gary, John and Joe, Bill Frisell, Ron Miles family, Tomoko Izumi, Dave Douglas and Alice Diamond

Cover Design, Photography, and Editing by Rudy Royston
Additional design by Lukas Frei & Robyn Ardagh

Rudy Plays Canopus Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Gibraltar Hardware and Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets


“One of the best jazz releases this year.”
★★★★½ Stephen Graham, Marlbank

“A wonderful album from an articulate drummer whose sound is contagious.”
★★★★ Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail

“An example of artistic expression that’s both personal and universal.”
– Michael Toland, The Big Takeover

“Rich textures, spirited interplay, resonant low register harmonics, and terrific writing make Royston’s second effort with his quintet, Flatbed Buggy, one of the year’s most creative offerings to date.”
– Jim Hynes, Making a Scene!

“Every detail counts and the whole is stunningly beautiful, timeless.”
– Yves Dorison, CultureJazz

“Royston is subtle and often understated—though he does swing—serving the music in the best possible way.”
★★★½ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“[Flatbed Buggy] was a meditative, fiercely rural record […] This new album reunites the same five musicians for a more cranked-up but still extremely thoughtful collection.”
– Phil Freeman, Stereogum

“Royston deftly pushes Flatbed Buggy forward with textural, organic grooves that stand out but never distract from the communal group vibe.”
★★★★ Matt Collar, AllMusic

“Original, yet seemingly familiar, songs, arranged as artfully as chamber music but with more engaging swing.”
★★★★ Howard Mandel, DownBeat

“So damn personable. It’s very expressive, yet it’s unassuming in its delivery.”
– Dave Sumner, Bandcamp Daily

“It’s hard to imagine a better outlet for [Rudy Royston’s] vision than Flatbed Buggy.”
– Ron Schepper, Textura

“Finds a wide range of expression in musical forms that were born in the countryside and grew up in the big city… it will continue to reveal its pleasures over repeated listenings.”
– Mel Minter, Musically Speaking

“A beautiful, artful recording that should speak to everyone passionate about dynamic group interaction in jazz and folk contexts.”
– Pat Youngspiel, All About Jazz

Press Inquiries

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