Emphasizing Adam Rudolph as composer.

Adam Rudolph – Morphic Resonances [TrackList follows] – Meta/M.O.D. Technologies 021, 55:09 [10/6/17] ****:

You won’t find percussionist Adam Rudolph on the hour-long Morphic Resonances. That’s because the seven tracks focus on Rudolph’s compositions, performed by other musicians, including two pieces by the Momenta String Quartet; one tune by the Odense Percussion Group; another composition with two groups working together (the Kammeratorkestret Ensemble and the Figura Ensemble); two duo pieces featuring flautist Kaura Watanabe and guitarist Marco Cappelli; and one tune for violinist Sana Nagano. Morphic Resonances is Rudolph’s 23rd as a leader and the final installment of a trilogy which includes 2015’s The Epic Botanical Beat Suite and 2017’s Glare of the Tiger. All three are connected by Rudolph’s application of the same intervallic and rhythmic materials. Rudolph explains, “Each sounds as different from the other because I used a different process to create the music on each.” The emphasis on Morphic Resonances is on Rudolph’s through-composed music. Some music was commissioned by the ensembles on the album. Others were written and offered to artists. Morphic Resonances was issued as high-resolution digital download and as compact disc with a booklet. This review refers to the digital download.

The two lengthy openers introduce the Michigan-based Momenta String Quartet. The 13-minute title track seems to be influenced by contemporary neo-classical stylists such as Arnold Schoenberg and Pierre Boulez. During the composition elements of polyphonic dissonance, atonality and interesting musical colorations also arise. Rudolph generates a rhythmic variability by inserting glissandi and pizzicato as well as other effects which allow for dramatic and expressive moments. A futuristic tack also riffles through the profound, 13-minute “Syntactic Adventures,” which is meant as memoriam for Yusef Lateef. Rudolph did 15 records with Lateef in a variety of settings, from duets to large ensemble collaborations. “Syntactic Adventures” is similar in scope and approach to the title track. There are discordant overtones; melodic and lyrical instances; and diverse rhythmic fluctuations from viola, cello and two violins. At times there is a somber, requiem-esque trait; other times agitation and tenseness. But overall there is a feeling of life and affirmation. During the second half of “Syntactic Adventures” Rudolph shifts to a minimalism comportment which hints at Philip Glass or Michael Nyman.

Rudolph balances multiple instruments during the four-minute “Coincidentia Oppositorum” which has the Kammeratorkestret Ensemble (Jakob Davidsen on piano, John Ehde on cello and Jakob Munck on trombone) alongside the Figura Ensemble (Signe Asmussen on wordless vocals and violin, Anna Klett on clarinet, Frans Hansen on percussion and musical saw, trumpeter Karl Husum and Jesper Egelund on double bass and wordless voice). While that number of instruments could lead to chaos or a complex arrangement, Rudolph manages to trim the structure to a modern chamber ensemble timbre. There is a wide assortment of styles and moods which are merged but mostly the solos and accompaniment are harmonically aligned with flourishing intonations. Rudolph proves he knows how to unify horns, strings and rhythmic instruments (bass and piano) into a commingling cohesion.

Rudolph demonstrates his command of rhythmic group arranging on the broadened “Orbits,” a showcase for the Odense Percussion Group. The Danish quartet comprises Kasper Grøn on vibraphone, orchestral bass drum, tom toms, cup gongs and low tam tam; Joakim Olsrud on slit drum, tom toms, cymbals and crotales; Natasja Dini on slit drum, snare drum and tom toms; and Rasmus Clemens on snare drum, tom toms, cymbal, tam tams, triangles and cowbells. The 10:30 tune is a truly collective percussion outing, which switches from moderate vibraphone mixed with ticking percussion, to lively multi-percussion sections which have a Japanese music mannerism, highlighted by animated tom toms and bass drum. There are avant-garde details and even occasional bits of jazz, but predominantly this is a modern composition which owes no allegiance to any specific genre.

The other pieces spotlight soloists and duos. The Brooklyn-based Watanabe (C flute and Noh kan flute) and Cappelli (acoustic guitar) are perfect on their two cuts. The nine-minute “Garden, Ashes” has extended solos by Watanabe and Cappelli. The two also contribute interlocked musicality which alternates from poetically lyrical and nuanced to restless and edgy. Cappelli and Watanabe also team up on the nearly four-minute, aptly-named “Lamento.” This number also shares Asiatic musical tones with avant-garde; Western and non-Western harmonics; and melodic inflections. “Lamento” appears to draw some inspiration from the microtonal community and has the sensation of free improvisation even though it is through-composed. The lone solo conception is the brief, 2:45 “Strange Thought,” with Nagano on violin. Like Rudolph’s other compositions “Strange Thought” is open-minded but generally concentrates on a mellifluous melody. Morphic Resonances is not easy to classify. There are underpinnings of Western classical, Asian motifs, world music rhythmic statements, avant-garde, and leading-edge jazz progressions. Rudolph isn’t keen on compartmentalizing his music. He clarifies, “I prefer not to adhere to the idea of a genre or category, and I personally don’t believe in class systems in music.”

Morphic Resonances
Syntactic Adventures (in Memoriam Yusef Lateef)
Garden, Ashes
Strange Thought
Coincidentia Oppositorum

Adam Rudolph – composer, producer; Momenta String Quartet (tracks 1-2): Emilie-Anne Gendron and Alex Shiozaki – violin; Stephanie Griffin – viola; Michael Haas – cello; Kaura Watanabe – C flute and Noh kan flute (tracks 3, 7); Marco Cappelli – acoustic guitar and electronics (tracks 3, 7); Sana Nagano – violin (track 4); Odense Percussion Group (track 5): Kasper Grøn (Percussion 1) – vibraphone, orchestral bass drum, tom toms, cup gongs, low tam tam; Joakim Olsrud (Percussion 2) – slit drum, tom toms, cymbals, crotales; Natasja Dini (Percussion 3) – slit drum, snare drum, tom toms; Rasmus Clemens (Percussion 4) – snare drum, tom toms, cymbal, tam tams, triangles, cowbells; Kammeratorkestret Ensemble (track 6): Jakob Davidsen – piano; John Ehde – cello; Jakob Munck – trombone; Figura Ensemble (track 6): Signe Asmussen – vocals, violin; Anna Klett – clarinets; Frans Hansen – percussion, musical saw; Karl Husum – trumpet; Jesper Egelund – double bass, voice

—Doug Simpson