Often the music of Adam Rudolph can be a bit intimidating. An authority in Afro-Cuban, Indian, West Africa musics and jazz, Rudolph's performances remind budding ethnomusicologists and jazz critics their knowledge inhabits a very provincial realm. Luckily that intimidation is reserved to academics and writers. The remaining listening audience is free to enjoy these sounds associated with world music.
The second release from Rudolph's Karuna Trio with percussionist Hamid Drake and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Ralph M. Jones, Imaginary Archipelago, might relieve some of the academic anxiety, insomuch as the world music heard here exists only within the trio's mind's eye. The eleven tracks, each a fabricated island, are conjured through instant composing and then are minimally processed with electronic post-production techniques. Not quite Teo Macero's studio rendering of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), but a sympathetic shaping of the raw materials of improvisation. Sometimes with echoey vocals, other times extended percussive loops, the music treads mythical realms.
These three players have made much music together over the years, including Rudolph's Moving Pictures ensemble, and Drake and Rudolph go back to Don Cherry's projects in the late-1970s. Likewise in duo, Jones and Rudolph have created significant recordings. With Karuna, there appears a magic triangle of creation. Their fictional world includes mythical instruments. Listed as "membranophones," "chordophones" and "idiophones," the two percussionists play an array of vibrating instruments constructed of metal, strings, skin and wood. Jones' "aerophones" are his saxophones, flutes and other breath instruments. All very fictive as it pertains to this conjured island chain. If Om was the first sound heard at the creation of the universe, it might have been followed by a pulse similar to that heard here.
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