Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures

"A pioneer in world music" - NY Times

About Moving Pictures

Concert Booking

Concert Reviews

Concert Videos

Moving Picture CDs

Educational Residencies

A Poetic Review

Meta Records

"If you're looking for where jazz is heading, I urge you to take a listen to Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures."
- Wall Street Journal

 Moving Pictures Ensemble
Moving Pictures photos: C. Daniel Dawson

Adam Rudolph
(compositions, handrumset (kongos, djembe, tarija, zabumba) thumb pianos,
sintir, multiphonic vocal, percussion, electronics)

Hamid Drake
(drumset, vocal, frame drum, congas, bata)

Ralph M. Jones
(flute, bass clarinet, husli, ney, alto flute, soprano and tenor saxophones, bamboo flutes)

Kenny Wessel
(el. guitar, electronics, banjo)

Alexis Marcelo
(fender rhodes, piano, percussion)

Damon Banks
(el. bass)

"Rudolph reinvents world music for sophisticated listeners" - Ear Magazine

"Absolutely incredible!" - New York City Jazz Record

Moving Pictures CD's

  Glare of the Tiger Both And Live @ Tampere Music Festival Nov. 2012Live @ Tampere Music Festival Nov. 2012 Dream Garden
Glare of the Tiger

Both/And  Live @ Tampere   Dream Garden
   12 arrows  Contemplations Skyway     Moving Pictures
12 Arrows Contemplations


    Adam Rudolph's
Moving Pictures

"One of the year's most ecstatic performances -
in any city, any festival, anywhere."
- All About Jazz

About Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures

The music of Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures heralds a new and vital direction in the evolution of American music. Grounded in the American improvisational tradition, the ensemble embraces music forms, languages, instrumentation, and cosmologies of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the African diaspora. Decades of performance and research into these music cultures have given the artists the background and experience to create a unique and unprecedented improvisational art form.

Formed in 1991, the group has performed throughout Europe and the North America. The concert repertoire consists of original compositions by Mr. Rudolph which serve as a basis for improvisational dialogue. The performance aesthetic of the ensemble reflects an ongoing search for new sounds and creative processes through which the players can express their thoughts and emotions.

The music of Adam Rudolph reveals itself like an excursion into an undiscovered country. Rudolph's compositions create environments for musical invention, fertile soil from which sound carves out its own landscape. It's a ritual space, hallowed ground for metaphysical exploration and exultation of the sonic urge, a spiritual celebration of music forever in the act of becoming.

Stumbling into this imaginary clearing, the aural traveler might be astounded to find an idiosyncratic culture, at once familiar and exotic, primeval and advanced, cerebral and emotionally direct. The constantly transforming terrain can shift suddenly from Delta swampland to African veldt, from urban Chicago to rural India, conjured from Rudolph's evocative, imagistic orchestration.

Since 1992, the chief population of this self-defining vista has been Moving Pictures, an amorphous ensemble formed as a vehicle for exploring Rudolph's rhythmic and intervallic concepts. The culmination to date of the composer/percussionist's ideas, an ideal commingling of personalities, instruments, craftsmanship and invention. As its title suggests, dichotomies coexist harmoniously within Rudolph's music - composition and improvisation, intuitive and intellectual, past and future, east and west. All come together in the guise of an octet comprised of highly individual musicians uniting to form a collective voice.

"Creative improvised music for me is all about expressing yourself and being present in the moment of the eternal now," Rudolph explains. "Each day dawns but once. We live with the illusion of routine but we don't really know what's going to happen next. The great spiritual and mystical traditions are all about teaching us to be in the present moment. The mind loves to go forward and worry or hope, or go into and rehash the past, but all that really exists is the moment of the eternal now. That's one of the things this music celebrates because it's all about creating in the moment."

Among Rudolph's primary strengths as a composer is his ability to devise pieces that speak in his own distinct voice while allowing each of the ensemble's strongly individual instrumentalists the freedom to explore within their expansive boundaries. One model for this approach is Miles Davis, whose legendary ensembles forged unforgettable, groundbreaking music from savvy combinations of his era's greatest musicians.

"One of the things that made Miles a great bandleader," Rudolph says, "is that he chose musicians who had chemistry with one another and then designed a compositional approach around the way they played. My idea for Moving Pictures was to compose a sonic environment where there's as much freedom as possible, but there's a collective idea of everybody serving the moment while expressing themselves. I'm more interested in collective improvisation than in solos. You can find this in the weaving, interactive lines of the music of Jelly Roll Morton or in Aka and Mbuti music."

Those two referents exemplify the diversity of Rudolph's musical touchstones, which range from traditional to avant-garde jazz, to world music from across a range of cultures, to blues and psychedelic rock, to classical and new music. He would be quick to add "so-called" before each of those genre labels, which can be tenuous and limiting under the best of circumstances. Even a cursory listen to Rudolph's music demonstrates just how useless they become in the face of truly open-minded creation.

Each member of the octet brings their own arsenal of instruments, which provides an enormous palette to draw from. Rudolph takes full advantage of those possibilities, searching for new and surprising orchestrations of color and texture from western and non-western instruments. "I've never understood why there is this codification of instrumentation," he says, "of bass, drums, piano and horns. Music can be orchestrated any way we can imagine. I encourage the musicians in Moving Pictures to be multi-instrumentalists. I think about orchestration the way any composer would, whether with a symphony orchestra or a handmade instrument collection - what colors work together, what's the balance you need to bring out the feelings and ideas in the music?"

"These musicians are incredible," enthuses Rudolph about the Moving Pictures line-up. "They bring the music to life in a beautiful way. The chemistry was magical. Everyone in Moving Pictures has been working with my concepts and ideas for a number of years. They understand them both musically and philosophically and so can express themselves freely while still being true to those ideas. They all have the capacity to be multi-instrumentalists and orchestrate themselves, which provides a broad, soulful palette. I feel like everybody brings a genuine love to their expression of the music and made it come alive."

The actual voices of Moving Pictures are ever-changing, but the musicians in its current incarnation all have plenty of experience with the leader's music. Much of the group has also performed with the Organic Orchestra, a 25-to-50-piece ensemble which operates by Rudolph's unique method of conducted improvisation.

"I use non-linear techniques in the scoring of the compositions," Rudolph explains. "The performers can move through these environments in a multiplicity of ways, while playing freely with other musicians who also understand their potential. Nothing ever sounds incorrect, but the relationships can often be surprising, and that element of surprise is very important in my music and creative music in general." These matrices, he explains, allows the musicians a greater range of melodic options while maintaining the composer's emotional intent. As opposed to the traditional notation that moves from one note to the next in a preordained progression, Rudolph's matrices offer multiple possibilities at each given juncture.

These intervallic approaches complement Rudolph's rhythmic innovations, which he refers to as "Ostinatos of Circularity", combinations of polyrhythms such as those found in African music and rhythmic cycles like those found in Indian music. "Often in African and African diasporic music, sonic rhythm patterns circle around and around in what I call "Ostinatos of Circularity". Because of this, the music becomes a call and thus a lift into transcendence. We've all heard this if we've listened to anything from Moroccan music or Samba or James Brown."


Among Rudolph's primary strengths as a composer is his ability to devise pieces that speak in his own distinct voice while allowing each of the ensemble's strongly individual instrumentalists the freedom to explore within their expansive boundaries. One model for this approach is Miles Davis, whose legendary ensembles forged unforgettable, groundbreaking music from savvy combinations of his era's greatest musicians.

"One of the things that made Miles a great bandleader," Rudolph says, "is that he chose musicians who had chemistry with one another and then designed a compositional approach around the way they played. My idea for Moving Pictures was to compose a sonic environment where there's as much freedom as possible, but there's a collective idea of everybody serving the moment while expressing themselves. I'm more interested in collective improvisation than in solos. You can find this in the weaving, interactive lines of the music of Jelly Roll Morton or in Aka and Mbuti music."

While his own approach to music-making has evolved considerably since that time, those earliest influences are still present in the music Rudolph composes for Moving Pictures, albeit filtered through his own progressive vision. "Blues in Orbit", for instance, is somewhat self-explanatory in that it takes an expansive approach to the blues form. Its spiraling rhythms swirl those Chicago-born sounds together with Kongo and Bantu music into a thicket of circular momentum.

"The motion in that composition is what I call the Universal Mother Rhythm," Rudolph says "and the feeling is the blues. The blues is a universal sound; you hear it all over the world. We know about it most powerfully through African-American music, so when we say 'the blues', we're looking for that deep, sincere feeling, where everybody tells their story by playing their instrument with a voice-like, soulful quality. In the ancient human condition, most of which happened in Africa, music, dance, and what we could call storytelling, were all one thing," Rudolph says. "I am interested in this idea of music beyond music, music coming from something greater than music; about creative human movement and dramatic gestures."


As a teenager, Rudolph began playing hand drums in the streets andparks in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park, but was soon playing with local legends like saxophonist Fred Anderson in Chicago and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet in Detroit. His nomadic instincts soon found him traveling further and further in a quest for new musical experiences, beginning with studies throughout West Africa in 1977. The following year, he co-founded The Mandingo Griot Society, fusing African and American music, with Gambian kora player Foday Musa Suso. He spent much of 1978 living in Don Cherry's house in the Swedish countryside, where his own compositional vision began to cohere under Cherry's tutelage.

In the decades since, Rudolph has studied North Indian tabla, Balinese gamelan, and music from across the African diaspora. He has married American and Moroccan sounds with Gnawa sintir player and singer Hassan Hakmoun and soloed with symphony orchestras across the United States. What is unique about the outcome of his extensive studies and travels, however, is that they have congealed into a singular music beyond style or culture. Rudolph's pieces are not jazz or avant-garde translations of the music from country "X"; they are new means of expression utilizing lessons and techniques imbibed from around the globe. The language is his, the accents multifarious.

"Over the years I've worked with musicians from many different cultures," Rudolph says, "and what I've found interesting is not only the material information of what they're playing, the rhythms or the scales, but the deeper part, their creative attitudes and approaches towards making music. With the musicians in Moving Pictures, my goal is to inspire them to do exactly that, to project what the Dogon people of Mali call the 'Mi', the inner spirit of the person projected through the voice of the instrument."

That inner voice has been important to Rudolph as instrumentalist as well as composer. "I spent years and years studying all kinds of drumming from different parts of the world, but the drummers who really influenced me most were Elvin Jones, Big Black and Tony Williams, because they were able to have their own voice on the instrument and you could recognize them in one note."

It's important, he stresses, not to segregate his role as percussionist or hand drummer from his mantle of composer. The two are intimately entwined; he is, in some ways, his own most vital collaborator. "My compositional consciousness is as informed by the resonance of skin on skin when I strike my drum as it is by my study of Schillinger's mathematical scales. What I do on hand drums as a percussionist is a central dynamic in my approach as a composer."

While in Ghana in 1977, Rudolph was struck by the countless one-of-a-kind, handmade instruments employed by local musicians, which translated into their own personal expression. "Anytime you have handmade instruments," he says, "the music is going to sound uniquely like itself."

In a larger sense, by devising his own approach to rhythms and intervals over decades - the philosophical/compositional equivalent to hand-crafted instruments - Rudolph has constructed a vehicle for ongoing individual creation. "When you can invent new creative processes for yourself," he continues, "then you come up with prototypical art. It doesn't sound like anything else. You can't listen to it as nostalgia or in comparison with anything else, but only on its own terms. That's important because the music then becomes a clearer lens into the realm of spirit."

In the realm of creative improvised music, the necessarily broad term which he uses to describe his own endeavors, Rudolph has collaborated with the likes of Don Cherry, Pharaoh Sanders, Sam Rivers, Wadada Leo Smith, L. Shankar, Jon Hassel, and Omar Sosa, among a host of others. Perhaps the most important of his myriad musical relationships is the one he has shared with multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef for more than twenty years. Since 1988, the two have recorded more than fifteen albums together, including a pair of concertos that each wrote for the other, released on the album Toward the Unknown in celebration of Lateef's 90th birthday in 2010.

A longtime practitioner of Hatha Yoga, Rudolph sees music itself as a form of Yoga in its guise as a "unity of mind, body and spirit." There is no separation, in his view, between the musical and the metaphysical. In this way, he follows the path forged by spiritually-oriented forebears like John Coltrane.

"One of the many beautiful things about John Coltrane was that he made overt in interviews and in the titles of his compositions what was always in this music," Rudolph says. "When you're dealing with this invisible alchemy in the realm of vibration, you are also dealing with the human spirit. You can project forth a sense of the evolution of your own personal mysticism."

The process of forging such a personal worldview, Rudolph says, travels through three phases, structured as three basic questions: What, How and Why. In a concrete sense, this is the path any musician takes from influence to expression, but alongside that development Rudolph traces a parallel spiritual progression.

"Growing up, when a young musician is attracted to a particular music in their environment," he says, "I call that the 'What'. They're called to it, they don't know why, but they love it. However, in the process of developing oneself as a musician, we want to move from the 'What' into the 'How' - to learn how the music is constructed, to move beyond style into pure musical elements: melody, harmony, rhythm, intervals, and timbre. "Hopefully," he continues, "that leads into the deeper realm, the 'Why.' That implies the whole idea of what motivates an artist, their personal philosophy or cosmology. We begin to see how to think and create for ourselves. Why is in the realm of spirit and implies intent and evolution."

Rudolph's 'Why' has absorbed the lessons of numerous teachers and cultures, emerging in echoes of the primal and constructions of advanced complexity, distinctive images and mystical abstractions.

"Being an artist is more than being a musician and more than being a drummer. An artist deals with the whole philosophical and cosmological aspect of what you do. As artists, we're sort of marginalized in society at this time and place - the horizontal, material realm. But in the vertical realm we're at the center. We go up into the cosmos or down into the unconscious and bring back what we discover to share with everyone else."


Moving Pictures Concert Videos


For Concert and Workshop Bookings Please Contact Us at:

Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures is available
for performances as a Quintet, Sextet, Septet or Octet

Educational Residencies

The members of Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures are experienced and dedicated educators. They welcome the opportunity to present educational workshops and residencies for students, adults and children - geared to the level of musical knowledge of each audience. A complete list of course offerings is available upon request.

Sample of Workshop Topics:


The Ensemble explores how to utilize fundamental music and movement elements: of form, melody, rhythm, harmony & timbre to create new musical languages.


This workshop outlines the methods by which composers may create compositional frameworks through which performers may interact improvisationally.


Presented by ensemble Artistic Director, Adam Rudolph, and drummer Hamid Drake, this discussion leads audiences through the complexities and simplicities of rhythmic structures common to all musics, and explores re-combinations of them as they inform the musical language of the ensemble.


Extended techniques, cyclic breathing and melodic systems for the woodwind player.


Presented by Brahim Fribgane, this workshop is a hands on introduction to music and rhythms of Berber and Gnawa peoples of Morocco.


Presented by Kenny Wessel, this workshop is a hands on introduction to the concepts of Ornette Coleman particularly as it applies to guitar and other pictched instruments.


• Working on taking small musical ideas and shapes and employing those to build solos.
• Repertoire Development - Strategies to learn and memorize tunes, and how to build a jazz repertoire.
• Chord Melody - How to develop chord melodies on the guitar and bass
• Motific Development in Improvisation


Moving Pictures performs on a wide variety of the world's instruments, many of which are unfamiliar to music audiences. These include the didjeridoo, hichiriki, djembe, bendir,dumbek, shenai, kaval, bata, kalimba, shakuhachi, tarija, sintir, udu drums, tablas, talking drums, ney, and tar. Additionally, the ensemble utilizes sound makers generally found in settings other than professional music making, such as bird whistles, toys, and "found" objects. This lecture/demonstration introduces these instruments, explains their origins and use within the ensemble, and includes some "hands-on" experimentation for audiences of all ages.

Presenters may request combinations of any of the above sessions,
and/or customized presentations for a variety of audiences.


Concert Reviews for Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures:

"This was certainly one of the year's most ecstatic performances - in any city, any festival, anywhere."
Martin Longely, All About Jazz

"What a great last concert, many told that it was the best part of the festival:) It was more than I could ever expected. It was FUNKIN' GREAT! You really can lead the band man. So, thank YOU for being here.
Festival Director Juhamatti Kauppinen

"What a mind blowing experience to see and hear Adam Rudolph´s Moving Pictures deliver its musical message as the last act of Tampere Jazz Happening 2012. One of the best bands of the festival this year, no doubt!"
Seppo Pietikäinen, Tampere festival MC

"They managed to create a magical and enchanted atmosphere."
Musica Jazz (Italy)

"A project of haunting power and beauty. Captivating and profoundly beautiful."
Earshot Jazz

"Rudolph reinvents world music for sophisticated listeners...he fuses many world musics into a very artful, and keenly constructed debut"

"A masterful blending of jazz styling and instrumental prowess"

"Their set was the best of the (Verona Jazz) festival"
La Cronaca

"With Moving Pictures...the evening ended up in heaven"

"Percussionist Adam Rudolph composes vivid, atmospheric soundtracks using jazz, blues, Middle Eastern, African, and Asian motifs over grooving rhythms...all thoroughly integrated and precipitously balanced"

"The level of professionalism is so high, what we get is the world music equivalent of jazz elders deftly improvising around one another"
The Beat

"At the Painted Bride Art Center on March 1, 2008, Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures gave its listeners a musical journey around the world in 2 hours or less. Days later, some were still talking about the concert, saying things such as “life affirming” and “the most beautiful music I’ve heard in a long time.” Rudolph, who recently moved back East, has been a long time explorer of world sounds and instruments. He has developed a series of grids, each with their own sonic integrity. The harmonies produced are not traditional and lead to unique sounds. Wessel said, “one of the cool things about this band is that we are all in the process of discovery. I’m having fun…We’re like kids learning new material.”  

The compositions tended to be short with a nice mix in tempo variation. Gorn’s bamboo flute and Rothenberg’s shakuhachi work were precise, thrilling and exotic. Haynes’ horns added a Miles-esque edge along with enough grit to dig in and Drake, as always, was masterful, either laying back setting the mood or freeing it up late in the affair.  Rudolph primarily jammed on his handrumset when he wasn’t directing the band, tossing forth wide ranging rhythms. His duo with Drake was priceless."
Ken Weiss -  Cadence Magazine

"The evening was transformed into an extraordinary and lyrical happening with music of ethereal light"
Il Giornale

Concert review from Feburary ‘08:

A Poetic Concert Review of Adam Rudolph's Moving Picture

Speaking Sidereal-Native (Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures in concert)

Music, the aural stream of the Cosmos, has the sacred ability to reconstitute us to our long forgotten original Selves -that is- to mould us once again into human beings of dynamic-chaotic- cohesion. Pulse and time, harmony melody and timbre, declare themselves circular and infinite as constellations or wombs, thus possessing the ability to reactivate within us a sense of Wholesomeness, bring us once again to that cliff of Holy within ourselves from which -in our first leap of faith- we would begin to apprehend, concavely and convexly, the many wonders of being. Music if born of pure-fiery heart, if birthed through a luminous mind, will procure us poetic/mathematical translations to seemingly indescribable notions: Ascension, fluidity, longing, Novas, contraction, transition, duality, despair, may at last be conjured through a saxophone's chromatic call to the Beloved, the sinuous movement of a bow on a bass, a stacatto response to its previous seeming languor, by the ancient orbs that crown a Tibetan bowl, or the praises to a goddess that slumber in the hollow nest of a Bata'; music will whisper phrases in lunar Arabic wailed by an Oud, carry a stardust eulogy posted from a piano, Music: healer of healers, breastfeeding beauty into our frantic civilized time, our various manicheisms, into our theatre of the absurd; music, reviving us through the young vigorous herds, the lava and forests that inhabit the drum, through the perennial wind-blessings of a horn's steel angel, a taciturn guitar adrift on her lovely motif of ecstatic dreams.

Only music as supreme alchemist, as interstellar sap, as ciphered medicine, has the ability to reconfigure geography and matter, to turn a first floor corner store, a brick and sheetrock room, into an open prairie lit by the sounds of the dome of heaven, where non-linear native time pulsates in ineffable hues: metal-blue, string -gold, skin-rain forest, big bang -red, stream-ice- rain-brook-wave-undertow harmony. Music, reconfigurer of molecules, healer of the seemingly terminal, chakra sculptor: Reminder of that which is yet to come.

Music breaths in the ample temple of Silence, revealing the necessary systole and diastole of their kiss.As music is played, citizens become Atmas, partaking fraternally of time/space, stating for the record, that which the Akash is to conserve: Tonight's sonographs will remain forever engraved as the synergy of souls in ecstatic sonic motion.

A cleansing, a blessing, time traveling from amorphous plasm to intergalactic voyage, is how one could describe being in the presence of Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures; being enveloped by its grace, its captivating aesthetics, to experience the Zen zeal of each of its participants, is to reignite in ones heart the love of sound, its supreme power and magnificence, to reignite the pleafor society's reconsideration of music as a primordial function - such as that of breathing- instead of relegating it to a something one uses to pose and acquire vacuous fame, and gilded puppet status.

Rudolph's music inherently contains the primary essences of compassion, introspection and inclusion necessary for the creation of living beauty. Therein, resides a visceral yet elegant pas de deux of yin and yang, one is simultaneously leader and co-participant, soloist and accompanist, a metaphor for the best of social dynamics. His musical compositions adhere to enough rigor for them to be structurally sound, yet are afforded enough freedom and oniric flight as to be of kinetic and spiritual wonderment. In these turbulent times in which avarice and violence seem to have become our Lingua Franca, his music speaks in a different tongue: Sidereal-Native.

May the art and science of Music- its appreciation and practice- reemerge then, as the eternal heavenly healer: our newly polished jewel: Our most ancient and proven Alchemist.

Vivian Ara, New York City 11-23-2013

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