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Hamid Drake / Ralph M. Jones / Adam Rudolph: Karuna

Mark Corroto By

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Adam Rudolph's music has always been exotic and yet familiar, far-flung, and seemingly nearby. Then again, the same can be said of Hamid Drake and Ralph M. Jones' work. This trio is sort of a dream team of performers. OK, just about every project Rudolph completes is a stellar combination created for a particular purpose. Presently, the Tibetan word for compassion, Karuna, is fitting. These dozen tracks radiate a kindness and humanity. The music is empathic for the listener because of the musicians' ability to understand and share in the musical consciousness of each other.

Rudolph and Drake's music relationship dates back nearly 50 years , and with Jones, 45 years. The two percussionists learned under first, Fred Anderson, then Don Cherry, before working with Yusef Lateef and Pharoah Sanders. Jones and Rudolph fused West African and American musics with Foday Musa Suso in the Mandingo Griot Society. The three have collaborated most recently in Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures, and releasing Glare of the Tiger (Meta, 2017) with this inventive trio.

Of the twelve improvisations presented, only one, "Two In Three," clocks in (barely) over six minutes in length. That means each piece is complete and a succinct statement. Each is a discovery of a unique percussion instrument like udu drums, djembe, or gourds, and each presents a triangulation of sounds. "Watergoddess Blues" overlays Rudolph's hand drumming and flute with Drake's drum set and Jones' tenor saxophone. It, like all heard here, is simply infectious. The three maintain a continuous exchange of musical ideas, with the constant stabilizer of rhythm. Besides the Art Ensemble of Chicago, few have explored the rhythms of this world like Rudolph, Drake, and Jones. Pieces like "Ancient, Future, Now" can be located on a map, first Africa, then Australia, before the Amazon. It's all very exotic, yet familiar—the sounds of a shared humanity.

Track Listing: Watergoddess Blues; Myth Science; Etymologies; Visions of Beyond; Himma; Entropic Entities; Journeys; Water Voices; Mosaics; Two in Three; Ancient, Future, Now; Cry of the Bamboo Flute.

Personnel: Hamid Drake: drumset, udu drums, gourd drum, percussion; Ralph M. Jones: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, hulusli, ney, bamboo flutes, sipsi, c and alto flutes, bass clarinet, spoken word; Adam Rudolph: handrumset (kongos, djembe, tarija), electronic keyboards and samples, cajon, udu drums, thumb pianos, marimbula, sintir, mouth bow, selya overtone flute, gongs, dusun'goni, percussion.

Title: Karuna | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Meta Records

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