Dedicated To You - Steve Rudolph Trio featuring J.D.Walter
PACT Records PACT1010
"Time defines the great ones"
Buy Dedicated To You. Jazz lovers, of all levels of sincerity, will cherish this record. The great ones know when not to play; throughout, Rudolph and his band (featuring J.D. Walter on vocals) aggressively pursue magical moments with discretion.
The impeccable timing of this album emerges with "Embraceable Evidence." Marko Marcinko's drumming poses an unorthodox opening to ensemble and improvisation inside of 90 seconds, and we know we are in for a swinging ride. J.D. Walter vocalizes under the piston fire of drums accents.
The record's title track arranges Walter's voice for maximum impact. In isolation, Walter's voice could be categorized as club fare. With Steve Rudolph at the keys, however, the music resounds with a class that reflects many years of considerate playing. Rudolph's quarter-note placement sets the table for a rambling of 88s that holds no key unturned. Steve Varner's bass solo sedates so that we feel awakened by Walter's vocal return. "Dedicated To You" fades on an instrumental question-and-answer foray that leaves us believing much more could come of this. To our delight, much more does. Vocals are mixed for aesthetic affect on "Just the Way You Look Tonight." Walter makes a wind sprint of expert improvisation. Band and singer feed off each other's ambitions and the invention sizzles. In this form, vocals contrast a rhythm foundation. The needs of the song outweigh the needs of the musicians. On "I Was Telling Her About You" Steve Rudolph's cascading keys nourish the soul like a candle that lights the face of a committed lover. "Things aren't always what they seem to be." Indeed. J. D. Walter and Steve Rudolph, in duet, arm the music with healing power. "My One And Only Love" hits us like a truck, but it feels good. Considering the many fatally blue versions of this song, Rudolph's high-speed blur makes comic effect of the tune's nostalgia. Before the laugh leaves us, however, we're spellbound by the band's will to again explore voice and rhythm at high intensity. "81" serves as a musical and holistic transition. The song opens on a funky groove that pays respect to jazz. The head bobs and hope rises with expertly executed crescendo. Solos by Varner and Marcinko highlight the wisdom of placing the record's only instrumental track here. The trio emerges from improvisation to a purely creative vibe. Our thrill is the ride. Rudolph's arrangement of "I Fall In Love Too Easily" seals the holistic value of the album. Although Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne are forever credited with the musical idea, Steve Rudolph solely possesses the integrity of this incarnation. For the first time, the band breathes in resonance. J.D. Walter's pastoral phrasing highlights the sheer beauty of this music. Rudolph, Walter, Varner, and Marcinko fundamentally grasp what works and when. Dedicated to You shows us how. What a power to have.
Review of JOE HUNT TRIO CD -DREAMBOXMEDIA 1067.
I'm Glad There is You/ Mr. Bim/ Solar/ Everything I Love/ I Hear a Rhapsody, Over the Rainbow/ Twelve Tone Tune Stars/ Three for BE/ The Sweetest Sounds I Ever Heard
Joe Hunt, d; Steve Rudolph, p; Steve Meashey, b
Saylorsburg, PA, Dec. 15-16 2002
Yes, that Joe Hunt from Stan Getz' group back in the '60s. Since then his appearances on disc have been infrequent and mostly out-of-the-way; it¹s a real pleasure to see him back in the studio. His new trio is unapologetically modeled after the classic Bill Evans trio, and the disc's program includes "Solar", "Gloria's Step", and "Twelve Tone Tune" from the Evans book, as well as an homage "Three for B. E.".
In the rather cramped liner notes is a description of pianist, Steve Rudolph as "an artist who projects strength and soul within a lyrical framework," whose "technical ability allows the music to speak to listeners without drawing attention to himself" - if so, he's failed, because this is playing of a caliber to turn heads. On up tempo tracks he is graceful without glibness, his lines so light and fleet they barely touch the ground; when he plays a ballad such as "Over the Rainbow", he is expressive but also bracingly clear-sighted and unsentimental. This is Evans with the pep and imagination still present, rather than the kind of innocuous redaction of his style one so often encounters among his followers. Rudolph, Hunt and bassist Meashey make this kind of jazz sound fresh and sometimes (on fast pieces like "Solar" and "The Sweetest Sounds I Ever Heard") genuinely exhilarating. It's a first rate disc, and deserves widespread attention among enthusiasts of the traditional piano trio.
CADENCE MAGAZINE Vol. 26 No. 12 December 2000
Review of Christmas with the Steve Rudolph Trio RLCD1054
Pianist Steve Rudolph demonstrates that one needn’t compromise one’s aesthetic values when doing a Christmas album. Though the repertoire consists of the usual suspects of holiday pop songs and carols, Rudolph comes about as close to having a Christmas album with year ‘round appeal as one can. (I happen to believe that’s an impossible measure anyway.) It makes me curious to hear what he plays the other eleven months of the year.
Rudolph deftly reharmonizes the pieces here and establishes structures that support extended blowing. On the hard swinging "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" the harmonies shift between suspension and release. "We Three Kings" gets turned into a four-to-the-bar romp. But he doesn’t always go against the grain of the tunes. On "O Come, O Come Emanuel" he extends and embellishes the somber mood of the original piece. Probably my favorite here Is the way he turns the stodgy "Silver Bells" into a hip waltz with some shifty harmonies.
He's well supported throughout. Langosch outlines Rudolph's quirky structures and makes them swing. Drummer Matt Wilson doesn't stint on the polyrhythms. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t wail, and that’s just what Rudolph and company do, and that makes this session one of the best Jazz Christmas recordings to come my way. David Dupont
Review: Steve Rudolph, "Everything I Love" R&LCD1049 (57:57)
I’ve never met Steve Rudolph but I have a hunch he’s a personable guy with a penchant for contemplation. At least that’s how he comes across in his playing on Everything I Love. The album has five Rudolph originals, plus tunes by Cole Porter, Bill Evans and Paul Desmond, among others. The technically adept Rudolph has broad command of his instrument and is good at capitalizing on its mode of nuance - like being both percussive and softly lyrical ("Estate’") or going for a lilting, glistening effect ("Three for B. E."). The bluesy "Back Home in Indiana" is progressive and pushes harmonic boundaries more than the rest of this repertoire. The full set is a mix of deft piano solos plus duets and trio work with Dwayne Dolphin, Roger Humphries and Steve Varner.
In Our Prime
Tom Strohman/Steve Rudolph Quartet | R&L Records
From western Pennsylvania comes a quartet of players who play with loose precision as they work their way through a set of familiar and original material. The result is what one might call sophisticated bop. There's plenty of improvising, expanding on the bop figures that were laid by the inventors of the style in the late 1940's with little agitation. Led by Tom Strohman on a variety of saxophones, the clarinet and flute and by the steady pianism of Steve Rudolph all buttressed by the strong foundation constructed by Steve Varner's bass, an hour of well conceived, cleanly executed arrangements are presented.
The album's kick off tune reveals the debt to that premiere jazz style as the group offers a scintillating run through of Rudolph's “T. C.'s” Tune. Old Devil Moon” is given a fresh up tempo, modern reading by the group. But like bop players of yore, this group is capable of more than playing fast and turning chords inside out. They record an out of the ordinary arrangement of Bobby Troup's “The Meaning of the Blues”. Here, Rudolph is the inside man with his introspective piano, with Goodwin the outside man, knocking off rim shots and other percussive announcements. The arbitrator is Strohman's flighty flute leading the way in a lovely proclamation of a tune that has been done by Julie London to Miles Davis. The Strohman/Rudolph version need not take a back seat to any version. The album's coda is a fitting, lilting “Scherzo for Summertime” and like that time of year has a calm, relaxed way about it. This piece comes from Strohman's 14 year son, Greg.
In Our Prime should be welcomed by those who get their listening pleasures in small group jazz. This album indeed is prime stuff. Visit Steve at www.steverudolph. com.
Personnel: Tom Strohman - Soprano, Alto & Tenor Sax/Flute/Clarinet; Steve Rudolph - Piano/Korg 01W; Steve Varner - Acoustic & Electric Bass; Bill Goodwin - Drums/Percussion