261

Jordan Rudess: The Road Home

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jordan Rudess: The Road Home Genesis...Yes...Gentle Giant... King Crimson... Emerson, Lake & Palmer...all significant contributors to the stylistic groundswell of progressive rock nearly forty years ago. Morphing beyond recognition, ceasing to exist or resting on their laurels, each has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years, as the internet makes it possible for fans around the world to come together in ways previously not possible.

They've also had a significant impact on contemporary groups like Dream Theater. DT's keyboardist Jordan Rudess—also a session ace and leader—pays tribute to these seminal groups on The Road Home. Tackling some personal favorites including Genesis' "Dance on a Volcano," Yes' "Sound Chaser," Gentle Giant's "Just the Same" and ELP's "Tarkus," it's hard not to ask: do we really need these contemporary retakes?

Superficially, perhaps not. But digging deeper into Rudess' undeniably loving homage reveals not only a talented player/interpreter, but someone who understands the fine line between reverence and mimicry. The majority of the material begins in close approximation, but Rudess' voice gradually emerges, as do a wealth of modern textures. Consequently, this is not just a compelling trip down memory lane for fans of the originals, but an opportunity for younger fans to hear where a group like Dream Theater came from, and generate interest in the groups that were instrumental in shaping contemporary progressive rock.

Rudess may start close to the originals' complex arrangements but ultimately deviates, in particular creating greater solo opportunities for himself and a host of guest guitarists including Ozric Tentacles' Ed Wynne, who turns in impressive solos on the jazz-centric "Sound Chaser" and complex counterpoint of "Just the Same." Rudess' guest vocalists have a greater challenge, especially when the original performances are so definitive, and they don't always work. Metal group namesake Kip Winger straddles the same line as Rudess to great effect on "Dance on a Volcano," but goes a tad over-the-top on "Just the Same." It may be sacrilege to suggest that some aspects of these reworks actually improve on the originals, but it's also hard to deny drummer Rod Morgenstein doing something Carl Palmer never managed on the epic, twenty-plus minute "Tarkus": play orchestrally and keep good time.

Rudess also adds his own idiosyncratic compositional passages, like the fusion-centric 7/4 expansion of "Aquatarkus." As key as Rudess' choice of collaborators is, this is really his show, with an array of keyboards both emulating the sounds of the originals and adding new ones to the mix. He's as virtuosic as any of his sources, something made clear on the solo piano "JR Piano and on his own, very knotty "Piece of the Pi," which would undoubtedly make Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman stand up and take notice.

It's hard for those who were around, back in the day, to think of this material as repertory. Still, with The Road Home Rudess proves that it's possible to take even the most tightly structured and hallowed classics and open them up for more contemporary reimagining.

Track Listing: Dance on a Volcano; Sound Chaser; Just the Same; JR Piano Medley: Soon, Supper's Ready, I Talk to the Wind, And You and I; Piece of the Pi; Tarkus: Eruption, Stones of Years, Iconoclast, Mass, Battlefield, Aquatarkus.

Personnel: Jordan Rudess: Korg Oasys, Korg Radius, Roland V-Synth, Roland VP-550, Roland Fantom X8, Haken Continuum, Moog Voyager, Dave Smith Evolver, Kurzweil 2600, Novatin Super Nova, Synthesizers.com Modular, Steinway D Concert Grand Piano, vocals (4); Neal Morse: vocals (1); Marco Sfogli: guitar (1); Rod Morgenstein: drums (1, 2, 3, 6); Nick D'Virgilio: vocals (2); Kip Winger: vocals (2, 3, 6); Ed Wynn: guitar (2, 3); Ricky Garcia: guitar (2, 6); Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal: guitar (3, 6); Bert Baldwin: vocals (4); Steven Wilson: vocals (6).

Title: The Road Home | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Magna Carta Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read Pandora's Bag CD/LP/Track Review Pandora's Bag
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 25, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 25, 2017
Read The Attic CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Outside The Comfort Zone CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "We Live Here" CD/LP/Track Review We Live Here
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987" CD/LP/Track Review Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987
by John Kelman
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "The Evolution Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Evolution Suite
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "North" CD/LP/Track Review North
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 3, 2016
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Oaktree" CD/LP/Track Review Oaktree
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 12, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!