Home » Jazz Articles » Karuna Trio: Imaginary Archipelago

Album Review

Karuna Trio: Imaginary Archipelago


Sign in to view read count
Karuna Trio: Imaginary Archipelago
Percussionists Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake, and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Ralph Miles Jones play together as the Karuna Trio. These spontaneous compositions were built on a deep foundation of shared experience, dating back to their teen years, for Rudolph and Drake; Rudolph and Jones later played together in the Eternal Wind quintet. The concept here is that the music they were making is from a fantastical place: an imaginary archipelago. Each of the eleven tracks is named for an island in the chain.

The sound is a potent blend of acoustic instruments with electronic processing, at once ancient and modern. In his role as composer/conductor of the Go: Organic Orchestra—as heard to stunning effect on Ragmala: A Garden of Ragas (Meta Records, 2019)—Rudolph shapes the music using the entire ensemble as his instrument. He does much the same thing here by processing and editing the raw materials of the trio's initial performance.

"Okomibo" opens the set with a spacey flute and percussion soundscape, with substantial processing on the flute part. "Alima" features bass clarinet, weaving melodies through a pointillistic landscape at first, then a regular rhythm. "Ibak" has a ritual feel, and finds Jones switching between flute and saxophone, processing turning the saxophone into an echoing chorus. "Pitek" is carried entirely by rolling percussion at first, joined by echoing saxophone, while "Chandirasa" makes extensive use of chimes, bells and gongs. "Suwakaba" must be a jazzy place, as it is inhabited by drum kit and saxophone. Voice is a strong presence in "Vajna," and "Sorokaba" closes with a gentle, contemplative mood.

The combination of hand percussion, horns and electronics strongly recalls the work of trumpeter Jon Hassell. Rudolph has worked with Hassell, notably on City: Works Of Fiction (All Saints, 1990 & 2014), but he brings his own sensibility to this music. In many ways it really does sound like World Music from a different world. And a rich, diverse sound sometimes belies the fact that it is all being created by just three musicians.

Track Listing

Okomibo; Alima; Ibak; Dimahala; Apekweh; Madazuba; Pitek; Chandirasa; Suwakaba; Vajna; Sorokaba.


Adam Rudolph: percussion; Ralph Miles Jones: woodwinds; Hamid Drake: drums.

Album information

Title: Imaginary Archipelago | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Meta Records

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album



New Oxford Brevity
Dominic Lash / Pat Thomas
Dedicated To You
Joe Coughlin
Times Like These
Nica Carrington
Blue Note Re:imagined II
Various Artists


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.