If you're looking for where jazz is heading, I urge you to take a listen to Adam Rudolph's Both/And (Meta), which is out today. The CD features Adam's Moving Pictures ensemble along with his Organic Orchestra Strings. What makes this album special are the textures Adam whips up with Western and Eastern instruments and improvised motifs. Not content to feature traditional jazz lines and eager to channel music and rhythms of many cultures, Adam has created a hypnotic and spiritual jazz fusion. What may seem far out at first is actually quite familiar, gentle and tender.
What is important is how he approaches music and arranging. His passions range from the rain forest and African desert to urban street beats and big band horns. All of his feelings are here on one album. Rather than attempt to describe the music, let me tell you who's playing and the wide range of instruments, many of which may be unfamiliar to you:
Adam Rudolph—hand drumset, thumb piano, bata, mouth bow and percussion.
Joseph Bowie (Lester Bowie Sr.'s youngest)—trombone, organic electronics, harmonica, congas, bamboo trumpet and percussion.
Graham Haynes—cornet, flugelhorn, bamboo trumpet and percussion.
Brahim Fribgane—oud, cajon, bendir, tarija and percussion.
Jerome Harris—acoustic bass guitar and slide guitar.
Matt Kilmer—frame drums, kanjira, bata and percussion.
Now add 11 strings and put it all in an imaginative blender. You dig?
This is exciting music, especially when you factor in how Adam arranges his compositions and conducts the group. Within tight pens of structure there is enormous room for improvisation and self-expression.
To quote from an earlier interview with Adam:
"There are through-composed solos, duos, trio and quartets that I add orchestration around in a spontaneous way. How do the musicians know what I want them to play and in which keys? There are 10 cues, each indicated by my fingers. I can cue any of the 10, and they can then improvise freely within them using their imaginations and abilities to listen. In addition, I can use hand signals to give specific directions within each cue that includes held notes, staccatos, range and dynamics, and extended instrumental techniques. There are also 10 different ostinatos [continuously repeated phrases] and 4 orchestration themes."
I can't say enough about this organic-jazz album. It's on the cutting edge but doesn't seem to ever leave home. It's primeval in the most engaging way. And the music, though abstract, never overstays its welcome or becomes dead weight. What happens is that through this music you find your inner spirit. Hey, there's a rogue banjo here with dozens of percussion instruments, a hot jazz trumpet and an instrument that sounds like Bob Dylan's harmonica, all framed by strings on some tracks.
Tour: Adam will be at the Jazz Gallery with Moving Pictures in New York on July 29. For his full schedule, go here (scroll down).
JazzWax clip: Here's Adam Rudolph a few years ago...