A Wordless Psalm of Prototypical Vibrations
META 012 - 2010
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"My heart is all happy, my heart takes wing in singing; under the trees of the forest, our dwelling and our mother."
- Mbuti song
Adam Rudolph: Membranophones and Idiophones: handrumset (kongos, djembe, tarija, zabumba), frame drum, thumb pianos, cup gongs, kongo slit drum, glockenspiel, percussion . Chordophones and Aerophones: sintir, melodica, berber reed horn, overtone horn, and mulitphonic singing
Ralph Jones: Aerophones: alto & c flutes, bass clarinet, tenor & soprano saxophones, ney, hichiriki, hulusi, umtshingo and bamboo flutes. Idiophones: bamboo sticks, shakers
Track 01 Nectaric Vibrations 6:52 Track 02 Aspects of Motion 5:23 Track 03 Oshogbo 3:46 Track 04 Dream Inflected 4:19 Track 05 Leaf Writing 5:44 Track 06 Celestial Space 14:32 Track 07 Forest Geometry 3:05 Track 08 Kind Thoughts 8:23 Track 09 Motherless Child 3:57 Track 10 Thankfulness and Joy 7:36
Track markers are for reference only. Yeyi was performed in a continuous flow as a living dialogic narrative of sonic images and language forms punctuated by the coloration of silences.
All music composed by Ralph Jones and Adam Rudolph
Recorded live in concert April 16th, 2009 at Delta College Theatre, Michigan Recorded and mixed by Mike Johnston
Mastered by Jim Hemingway, Shutesbury, MA
Design by Sylvan Leroux
Cover photo by Adam Rudolph
Artist photos by Noureddine El Warari
Produced by Adam Rudolph
© Meta Records 2010
Great improvisers can create scintillating music in any situation or setting. But as Adam Rudolph can attest, the ability to transcend music and achieve something truly profound requires a sort of mysterious chemistry that comes along in precious few instances over the course of a musician’s lifetime. “We can’t underestimate the element of alchemy,” Rudolph says.
On Yeyi, one of two new releases on his own Meta Records label, the master percussionist celebrates his over 30-year partnership with multi-instrumentalist Ralph Jones (the second release, Toward the Unknown, features another longtime collaborator, the legendary saxophonist Yusef Lateef). Throughout the album’s ten tracks, Jones employs an arsenal of woodwind instruments to complement Rudolph’s percussion battery in a wide-ranging, deeply spiritual dialogue. Rudolph and Jones’ partnership dates back to the 1974 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, where they performed on a bill that also included Sun Ra and James Brown. They were brought together by trumpeter Charles Moore, with whom they later cofounded the Eternal Wind quartet.
“We understand each other on a creative level and on a philosophical level,” Rudolph says, “which means that we have a profound kind of freedom. I like to work with musicians who understand what I’m doing, not just musically but metaphorically.” Rudolph refers to Jones as “the greatest woodwind player you may not have heard of,” and the description is apt. Jones’ wide-ranging career has included recordings and performances with the likes of Lateef, Pharaoh Sanders, Ahmed Abdul Malik, Ella Fitzgerald, Wadada Leo Smith, Ken Cox of the MC5, and his group, The Seekers of Truth Revolutionary Ensemble. In addition, he has performed in Rudolph’s ensembles Moving Pictures and the Go: Organic Orchestra.
The intuitive language that the two improvisers have developed over their lengthy collaboration are fully in evidence on Yeyi. Subtitled “A Wordless Psalm of Prototypical Vibrations”, the CD is an offering of thanks, a communion with the natural world both outer and inner. “It’s not trying to evoke nature itself so much as evoking naturalness,” Rudolph says. “The natural state of who we are, the real us as spiritual beings. You can still be in tune with your naturalness in the 21st century, living in New York City.”
“Yeyi” refers to the yodeling of the Mbuti pygmies, one of the oldest indigenous people of the Kongo region of Africa. Their inspiration on the music is twofold, according to Rudolph: one is in the communal harmony with nature towards which the artists strive, and the second is in the legacy of a culture that has rippled outwards over continents and generations, through the African-American musical influences that Rudolph and Jones draw upon.
Over the course of the ten explorations that make up Yeyi, Rudolph and Jones draw from a pool of shared knowledge – musical studies, each other’s languages, their own prior interactions – to communicate with a penetrating intensity. “We not only have a long temporal history but a huge body of compositions and rhythmic and intervallic approaches that we can call upon,” Rudolph says. “And those elements are present in a deconstructed form so that we can construct and orchestrate them any way we want to in the moment based upon listening to each other.”
Those common elements include a variety of musical traditions, including African and Indonesian music, and raga, and compositions both traditional and original, as when the two revisit “Oshogbo”, the piece which opened Dream Garden, the most recent release by Moving Pictures. Disparate influences can also cross streams, as when Jones conjures the traditional spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" on the ney, a Middle Eastern flute.
Returning to the subject of that sonic alchemy that this recording so amply demonstrate, Rudolph likens the discovery of a musical soulmate to a romantic one. “You could list of reasons why you marry someone, but it comes down to a feeling. It’s something that you know from the get-go but also something that develops over time. Ultimately it’s a mystery.”
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