Adam Rudolph/Go: Organic Orchestra

The Sound of a Dream
Meta Records META 014

Paradoxically as his sonic canvas has enlarged and his palate of instrumental shading has become more numerous, percussionist/composer/conductor Adam Rudolph appears to have produced a less promising creation than last time out. Although there’s much to admire in The Sound of a Dream, an 18-part suite, interpreted by 48 [!] musicians, ironically it seems to lack the organic fortitude that made Both/And, his previous release, so exceptional.

By nearly tripling the number of participant, there appears to literally be too many tones, rhythms and textures being advanced by too many musicians too much of the time. Similarly by evidentially cleaving closer to orchestral conventions albeit with more improvisational choices, too many of the tracks lack an overriding motif to sunder them together. You’re left wanting more; not in anticipation but for completion. Interestingly, but troubling as well, Rudolph doesn’t play on the session

Throughout, on tracks that last between slightly over 1½ minutes up to nearly seven minutes, different sequences and interludes are exposed, but in many cases lack sufficient time in which to make more than a primary point. Sometimes individual tracks concentrate on showcasing stop-time pizzicato plucks; in contrasting the multi-hued variations available from J.D. Parran’s contrabass clarinet with an ethnic transverse woodwind; or in capturing the contrapuntal effect of how one string player’s mandolin-like plucks mix with oboe slurs. But each sequence appears to be only a phrase rather than the connective sentence or paragraph needed to properly contribute to The Sound of a Dream’s narrative. At junctures mercurial reed expansions, rhythmic shudders from the percussion implements, chirping flutes and rubato sharpness from the strings resemble 20th century minimalist music. But neither a musical context nor a connection is audible for these formalized interludes. Furthermore, “Nascence”, the final track, is just that rather than a finale. As a wraps-up for loose ends it uncomfortably flanks Zé Luis Oliveira’s legato flute wisps with staccato fiddle stops and riffing horns to little avail.

More commendable are those sequences which take full advantage of the unanticipated textures from the European and non-western instruments put into close proximity. Among these tracks, which unlike parts of Duke Ellington’s or Charles Mingus’ extended works, lack the bones to stand on their own are showcase like “Love’s Light”, “Treelines” and “Dance Drama Part 3 (Red)”. On the first shaking bell patterns, steel drum-like reverb, Rock music licks from bass guitar, castanet clatter and vibration back-up acoustic guitarist Marco Cappelli’s elaboration of the theme. European romantic chivalry and Asiatic love potions are evoked soon afterwards, as the guitarist’s tone is contrasted and intertwined with erhu-like double stopping from violinist Charles Burnham.

Chris Dingman’s swinging vibraphone slaps help define “Dance Drama Part 3 (Red)”, when mixed with tremolo string crescendos and lead guitar runs from Kenny Wessel. Every orchestra members appears to contribute his or her instrumental timbre atop a never-ending battery of percussion bounces and ruffs. However the piece is still unceremoniously cut off. Finally atmospheric strings undulate, polytonal horn whistles flutter in the background as comping piano chords introduce and connect notable solos from Cappelli strumming and Jason Kao Hwang’s spiccato viola plucking.

It’s because of these flashes of exquisite work there’s every expectation that Rudolph will soon create a program for an ensemble of this size that will surpass The Sound of a Dream. Like Picasso’s works when he moved to from Cubism to individualized Classicism, Rudolph is allowed some missteps in a learning curve.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Glimpse and Departure 2. Dance Drama Part 3 (Green) 3, Ambrosia Offering 4. Slip of Shadows 5. Lament and Remembrance 6. Love’s Light 7. White Sky, Black Clouds 8. Dance Drama Part 3 (Blue) 9. Treelines 10. Neither Mirage nor Death 11. To Rafter to Skylight 12. Murmur and Dust 13. Dance Drama Part 3 (Red) 14. Dance Drama Part 4 15. Wing Swept 16. Glow and Orbit 17. Dawn Redwoods. 18. Nascence

Personnel: Stephen Haynes (trumpet, cornet, conch, flugelhorn and alto horn); Graham Haynes (cornet, flugelhorn and ewart bamboo horn); Peck Allmond (trumpet, kalimba, peck horn and conch); Ted Daniel (trumpet and ewart bamboo horn); Peter Zummo (trombone, conch and didgeridoo); Steve Swell (trombone and ewart bamboo horn); Ned Rothenberg (B-flat and bass clarinet and shakuhachi); Avram Fefer and Ivan Barenboim (B-flat and bass clarinet and bamboo flutes); Charles Waters (Bb flat clarinet and bamboo flutes); David Rothenberg (B-flat clarinet and seljefløytes); J.D. Parran (E-flat contrabass clarinet, alto flute, ewart double flute and kalimba); Sylvain Leroux (tambin fulani flute, C-flute and bamboo flutes); Ralph Jones, Zé Luis Oliveira and Michel Gentile (C and alto flutes, bamboo flutes); Kaoru Watanabe (noh kan, fue and C-flute); Steve Gorn (bansuri flute and hichiriki); Peter Apfelbaum (C-flute, bamboo flutes, melodica, and bamboo saxophone); Batya Sobel (oboe, ocarina and arghul); Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon and sona); Sarah Bernstein, Charles Burnham,Trina Basu, Mark Chung, Elektra Kurtis, Curtis Stewart, Midori Yamamoto, Skye Steele and Rosemarie Hertlein (violin); Jason Kao Hwang (violin and viola); Stephanie Griffin (viola); Marika Hughes, Daniel Levin and Isabel Castela (cello); Alex Marcelo (piano); Kenny Wessel (guitar and banjo); Marco Cappelli (acoustic guitar); Chris Dingman (vibraphone); Janie Cowan (bass); Stuart Popejoy (acoustic bass guitar); Brahim Fribgane (cajon, tarija, oud and percussion); James Hurt (sogo, kidi, igbo bell and percussion); Matt Kilmer (frame drum, djembe, kanjira and percussion); Tim Kieper (dusun’goni, pandiero and percussion); Keita Ogawa (earth-tone drum, hadjira, pandeiro and percussion); Tripp Dudley (kanjira, cajon and percussion) and Adam Rudolph (conductor)