"Now that I’ve moved to New York," he says, "I’m lucky to be doing enough things with enough people to be financially okay. Being a percussionist now is being a really valid part of a lot of musical situations. What I meant by that bull’s-eye statement was you have to be creative not just in your music but in your life, and think about how to make it work. I’m doing this combination of teaching residencies, subbing at NYU. I do some sideman things, not a lot. I’d rather be doing my group all the time. It varies more widely than the stock market itself." [laughs]
When Rudolph is asked about his own gigs versus doing other gigs, he notes, “Last spring we went on tour with my Moving Pictures; I got two grants from Chamber Music America and other projects where, for like a month, I was focused on my music. I want to take Moving Pictures to Europe ... that’s my heart and soul. As a percussionist, as a composer, philosophically, everything gets projected through to that. It’s not like I want to be a bandleader, but I have a concept.
"Being a hand drummer has been a mixed blessing in a lot of ways," he reflects. "Every band doesn’t have a hand drummer. So, in a way, you do have to automatically think about other things, other ways to make money. So I go into teaching, or these corporate drum circles, or whatever.
But the other thing that’s been very cool to me about being a hand drummer — what I love about it — your role in the group isn’t so predetermined. It’s kind of hard for people to break out of the orchestration of this music. Yusef Lateef told me it was that way back in the ’50s. Who decided that you had to have drums, bass, and piano to play music? And play a certain way? It’s like saying, ‘I’m only going to eat Granny Smith apples and that’s it.’ So, as a percussionist, I wasn’t ever fitting into the ensemble with a particular kind of role or function. That’s always been really liberating, but it’s also made me sort of like … you’re kind of an outsider, and yet sort of in the jazz world."
Making the understatement of this interview, Rudolph tags it all when he concludes, "Being a percussionist and being sort of outside of things has allowed me to move into another way of thinking."
Drums: Valje (mid-'60s vintage)
1 12" x 30" Tumba with thick goatskin
2 12.5" x 30" Tumba with thick cowhide
3 12.5" x 24" Djembe (Ivory Coast) with antelope skin
4 11.5" x 30" Conga with thin cowhide
5 7.5" x 10.5" Dumbek (Jordan)
6 18.5" x 9" Contemporanea Zabumba (Brazil)
7 4"—5" Tarijas (Morocco) with goatskin
A 15.5" cymbal (Turkey)
B Tea Tin (India)
C Iron Bells (Nigeria)
Adam Rudolph also uses Tama hardware.