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Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures: Dream Garden

J Hunter By

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During his formative years in Chicago and Detroit, percussionist Adam Rudolph sat at the feet of a number of fantastic musicians, most notably Don Cherry and Fred Anderson. Combine that mentoring with Rudolph's years-long study of African and Indian rhythm traditions, and you get Cyclic Verticalism—a compositional matrix that allows the prolific percussionist's players to create their own space, while maintaining and contributing to a single rhythmic pattern. In less flowery terms, Cyclic Verticalism combines the creative concepts of jazz with the tribal framework of the drum circle. It is also the nerve center of Dream Garden, and its effect is extraordinary.

One of Cherry's mottos was "You have to respect the silence before you can respect the sound." The listener gets to do both on the opener "Oshogbo." A furious beat drives the piece, punctuated by abrupt blasts from the front line, augmented by a conversation between guitar and bass and Graham Haynes' hot cornet. Without warning the piece stops dead, leaving what will happen next up in the air. Resuming again similarly, but with renewed energy crackling like lightning, it stops dead again after a few knife-sharp clarinet lines from Ned Rothenberg. When it reboots a second time it's taken in a completely different direction where, instead of running through a wild jungle, it's in a peaceful clearing, dizzying from both the shift of the attack and the beauty of the tune's final; destination.

There are many gorgeous moments Dream Garden. There's the splendor of great flowing narratives on the lush (and aptly titled) "A Vision of Earthly Delight" and mysterious "Twilight Lake," as well as the short, intimate sound poems, where members of Rudolph's formidable octet create layered pieces of World music, sometimes free-standing, sometimes as a precursor of what comes next.



Though there's plenty of the mystical here, there's straight jazz and funk too, including the bouncing closer, "Walking the Curve." Jazz and the mystical travel side-by-side on "Spectral," as unearthly Eastern percussion is broken up by staccato horn charts reminiscent of Art Blakey's take on Thelonious Monk's "Justice."

Keeping with the Cyclic Verticalism credo, every player compliments both the music and each other. Hamid Drake—another Anderson protégé—works wonders on his trap set, letting Rudolph hand-drum each piece into whatever shape he wants. Steve Gorn's bewitching flutes do their best work in the sound poem format, particularly on the surrealistic title track. Even so, his breathy, off-kilter sound brings a spiritual tinge to the entire date. Guitarist Kenny Wessell and bassist Shanir Blumenkrantz team with multi-instrumentalist Brahim Frisbane to build a vibrant string section that matches the juicy front line step for step.

Rudolph has learned his lessons well, and he's found like-minded artists to help him paint amazing pictures. Dream Garden weaves a multicultural tapestry that links Chicago with Morocco, Detroit with Delhi. It is like a world tour, full of amazing surprises.


Track Listing: Oshogbo; The Violet Hour; Twilight Lake; Scintilla; Happiness Road; Cousin of the Moon; Mood; A Vision of Pure Delight; Mystery; Spectral; Helix; Dream Garden; The Sphinx; Walking the Curve.

Personnel: Adam Rudolph: percussion; Brahim Fribgane: oud, tarija; Graham Haynes: cornet, flugelhorn; Hamid Drake: drum set, frame drum; Kenny Wessel: guitars; Ned Rothenberg: shakuhachi, bass clarinet, bass flute, alto sax; Shanir Blumenkrantz: acoustic bass, sintir; Steve Gorn: bansuri, clarinet, Pakistani oboe.

Title: Dream Garden | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Justin Time Records

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