Hand percussionist, ethno-musicologist, composer and bandleader Adam Rudolph is one of those under-noticed but crucial guys in jazz who has dedicated his career pushing out the boundaries of the idiom and moving it forward into fresh and exciting areas. After getting first hand music education from the likes of Don Cherry, Fred Anderson, Yusef Lateef and Foday Musa Suso, he probably couldn’t help that even if he tried.
Working with those icons, plus Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes, Sam Rivers and Jon Hassel, there’s no better prepared practitioner of world fusion with a progressive bent and for the last twenty-five years, his Moving Pictures ensemble has served as his primary apparatus for carrying out his multi-cultural mission.
After five years tending to other projects, Rudolph brings back Moving Pictures for Glare Of The Tiger, out March 10, 2017 from Bill Laswell’s M.O.D. Technologies. Back with Rudolph is drumming legend Hamid Drake, who has been involved with Moving Pictures nearly from the start, providing the band with an unbeatable pair of percussionists. Guitarist Kenny Wessel, trumpet guru Graham Haynes (on cornet and flugelhorn) and Ralph M. Jones (flutes and reed) also returns. Add to them electric bassist Damon Banks, keyboardist Alexis Marcelo and percussionist/keyboardist James Hurt, and you have the potent ingredients for a potent album. Glare Of The Tiger is such an album.
“Glare of the Tiger” gets the program going with a deep groove and led Haynes’ cornet, accompanied by the bass clarinet of Jones. It’s more than suggestive of Miles Davis’ fusion experiments of the early 70s, but it goes further than most do in highlighting that Miles incorporated a lot of African rhythms into his mystical brew. That same kind of vibe pervades this jungle jam. Rudolph and his crew groove on competing beats from percussion and Marcelo’s Rhodes on “Ecstaticized,” and Jones leads the way on soprano sax. The notes recede to the background on “Lehra” as Rudolph himself steps up front and shows off his hand drumming skills in isolation.
Much more often than not though, the group interplay and impressionistic textures — not individual performances — does the mesmerizing. “Rotations” is imbued with psychedelic hypnosis with guitar, flute and cornet uniting for a ghostly lead line. The celestial “Dialogics” delves further into psychedelics, the percussion providing a rich montage of colors behind the cornet and flute.The spare but rich vibe of “Wonderings” glows as it meanders along until out of nowhere an African dance breaks out nearly ten minutes in and Haynes’ cornet gets to work.
With such an impressive assemblage of talent pushing out the frontiers of world music, this could have easily been a scholarly affair, but then that wouldn’t be an Adam Rudolph-led record. Glare Of The Tiger is spontaneous, instinctual, colorful, danceable and…most importantly…a hell of an enjoyable listen.