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April 2008

Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures
Dream Garden
Justin Time Records

Adam Rudolph is a mixer-upper whose greatest gift is his ability to take pieces from here, there and beyond, toss them into scenarios in which they should collide noisily, and instead coax from them harmonious goodness and excellent adventures. At the root of Dream Garden, as in everything Rudolph touches, is the relationship between his hand drums and percussion and the sundry horns and stringed instruments his Moving Pictures octet employs. Rudolph’s résumé is stuffed with references—notable stints with Yusef Lateef and Don Cherry; membership in Mandingo Griot Society in the ’80s—that substantiated that his particular global fusion happily deviates from accepted notions of both world music and jazz without sailing off the map completely. Improvisation is key to Dream Garden’s success, but so is a continual exploration of tonal color and Moving Pictures’ East/West crossbreeding.

Rudolph’s world is one of contrasting shapes and languages, and of unexpected, welcomed variations. His considerable time spent within the music of the Gnawa informs Dream Garden but the present crew continues past Morocco into parts unknown to create its own identity. “Cousin of the Moon,” an early highlight, enters warily as breathy flute is acquainted with ambient bass, far-off guitar chording and a nearly imperceptible jingling. Brassman Graham Haynes quickly asserts himself, Rudolph goes bonkers and the mix becomes dense, edging toward a fiery blast. Opening track “Oshogbo” comes on like electric Miles, all angular and staccato, takes a breath, cedes to tranquility and fades ominously, while the closing “Walking the Curve” is all funky bassline, hellacious horns, wacky wah-wah and Rudolph’s hands hard at play. Several one- and two-minute interludes provide connections and contrasts, a glue that adds even more mystique and soul to a set that already possesses plenty of both.

Originally published in April 2008
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