Adam Rudolph is one mellow dude. Beneath that calm exterior, however, lie the instincts of a jungle cat.
Rudolph’s soft beard, ethnic attire, and warm eyes keep easy company with an urbane, jazzy diction, his way in the world fostered by an unlikely upbringing in 1960s Chicago, where jazz, blues, and the avant-garde mingled with the new music coming from every corner of the planet. It’s an upbringing that’s taken him all over the place, and had him studying, living, and working in spots as diverse as Oberlin College in Ohio, Ghana, Los Angeles (via Sweden), Brooklyn, and now near South Orange, New Jersey, a spot he’s been calling home for almost three years.
Wherever he is, Rudolph is always working, hot on the world’s trail of all things musical. Overlapping the week prior to when this story was turned in, for example, this hand-drumming spinning top had just returned from a weekend at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, where he played in duet with the legendary reed and flute player Yusef Lateef for his 90th birthday, at Grace Cathedral; flew home the next day where he spent Sunday and Monday mailing out copies from online orders of his rhythm book Pure Rhythm (Advance Music) and his new Meta CD releases Yeyi (with Ralph Jones) and Towards The Unknown, his concerto for Lateef featuring his Organic Orchestra strings and percussion concerto (with chamber orchestra).
At the same time, he prepared a new Organic Orchestra score, “Ostinatos Of Circularity,” for the New York City Organic Orchestra, the group playing Mondays at Roulette in Manhattan during the month of November. Also, he worked on scores for the Organic Orchestra concept, which he taught and performed with the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble at Dartmouth College the following week.
All the while, as he put it, “I practiced my hand drums.”
That Tuesday, he practiced more with his hand drums and prepared charts and rehearsed with Moving Pictures, the group working on his new compositions. The next day, he had a concert with Moving Pictures at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge club, and on Thursday he drove to Dartmouth with Ralph Jones to give an evening workshop with the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble. Friday was dedicated to returning home and having lunch with Lateef in Amherst. Saturday was a Yeyi CD release concert at the Nublu Jazz Festival back in New York City, while Sunday was about rhythm section rehearsals with the New York City Organic Orchestra, which did its regular Monday-night gig at Roulette the following night. Those in attendance witnessed Rudolph conducting 42 musicians!
Tuesday through Saturday of that second week, Rudolph did his residency at Dartmouth, where, during his free time, he worked on his upcoming book, tentatively titled Process And Prototype. The week culminated in a Saturday concert by the Organic Orchestra with students and a performance with a percussion trio of his rhythm concepts, featuring Brahim Fribgane and James Hurt, both of whom are percussionists with the Organic Orchestra.
That was most of what took place during just two fertile weeks of creative activity. No wonder he has so many credits next to his name.
And that’s what Rudolph’s been doing for lo these many years as a musician, conductor, composer, and bandleader.
From that abbreviated itinerary listed above, one can gather a handful of autobiographical items, one of which has to do with the groups Rudolph’s been leading for a while now, the mainstays being his Moving Pictures and Organic Orchestra ensembles. These groups and others that he has any say with are driven by a musical intellect that is always searching, reaching for newer and more profound musical truths. The intellectual air sometimes can become quite rarified.
“What I am currently researching,” says Rudolph, “is how cosmologies from various cultures inform music itself. Also what is spirit manifest as sound? What is the personal and collective wellspring of creative music?