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Prime Cuts

by Jordan Rudess

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about

A Selection of Jordan’s Finest Work for Magna Carta
Featuring Performances by: Robert Berry, Marc Bonilla, Terry Bozzio, Jerry Goodman, Tony Levin, Rod Morgenstein, John Petrucci, Simon Phillips, Mike Portnoy, Kip Winger, Mark Wood

Jordan Rudess is well known to fans from keyboard roles with Liquid Tension Experiment, which lead to his joining Dream Theater; as well as his work with the Dixie Dregs, Steve Morse, Paul Winter Consort, and David Bowie.
Exclusive tracks, previously unreleased duets with Jordan and Kip Winger on 2 tracks.

A child prodigy on piano, Jordan’s musical journey predates his association with Magna Carta Records. And yet that label holds a special significance that ought to be noted at the outset of the release of Jordan Rudess Prime Cuts. As it turns out, in the eighties Jordan stood at the crossroads, faced with a choice between Dream Theater and another significant prog band. Push came to shove and, for various reasons, Rudess allied himself with the Dregs. In that forum, and in subsequent ones, Rudess honed his distinctive sound and approach, culling commendations from the musical press.
It wasn’t until the late nineties that Rudess answered the call for a special project under the aegis of Magna Carta: The Liquid Tension Experiment. It was his stirring performance with this lineup that commended Rudess as next keyboardist for Dream Theater, a role Jordan enjoys to this day. Many albums have ensued, not to mention many a road jaunt to all points North American, European, and Asian.
Dream Theater aside, Jordan’s solo output has been prolific and of substance, while his side projects have always captured the interest of a wide range of fans, many of whom follow his every move in the intertwined worlds of composition and keyboard technology, a topic on which Rudess is particularly conversant.
Magna Carta proudly presents Jordan Rudess: Prime Cuts. The tracks have been selected by the record label’s founder Peter Morticelli. Let’s take a “walk” through them.
Tackling an expansive concept in “Universal Mind”, Liquid Tension Experiment adopts an expansive approach. Aside from his customarily appropriate keyboard textures, Rudess, in a couple of instances, brings out the grand piano, setting up an almost anachronistic foil to the busy and electrified accompaniment.
“Tears Before The Rain”, from Rudess’ album Rhythm of Time is romance personified. The acoustic piano is perfectly foiled by Kip Winger’s gentle vocals and Rod Morgenstein’s crystal ride. The descending arpeggios and glissandos around 3:20, and subsequent vocal chorus, complete the falling rain image—such a shift in mood and restraint from the previous track!
“Revolutionary Etude” harkens back to the Julliard school training that Rudess underwent at the tender age of nine. Taken from Jordan’s album Steinway to Heaven, it is not so much revolutionary intrinsically but in its contrast to the surrounding material.
Producer Mark Gage has his way with “Osmosis” in this Vapourspace remix of Liquid Tension Experiment. The track displays an almost rootsy approach, vaguely reminiscent of Daniel Lanois, particularly in the drum loop and Tony Levin’s opening bass line. Jordan’s keyboard pads provide a sinewy and satisfying backdrop.
And then we turn to “Faceless Pastiche”, from Modern Drummer Presents Drum Nation Volume One. The listener is startled at 1:20 when Jordan’s acoustic piano bounces off Morgenstein, who is pushing urgent anticipations with bass drum and open/closed hi-hats. Against these a keyboard ostinato and percussion track offer persistent tension. The communication is what you’d expect from Rudess and Morgenstein, who have worked in duet ever since a “selective” power outage in a concert venue left them the only two audible.
It is not the use of diverse keyboard timbres and patches that defines Jordan Rudess’ modus but, rather, the concealing of them or, at least, the melding of them to good effect. This is best illustrated in “Outcast”, from Jordan’s live album 4NYC, a work that speaks of calamity, tranquility, and winds racing through gaunt passages.
“Liquid Dreams” begins in the same key with a pensive examination of the surroundings. Everything about the intro and the increasingly racing grand piano forebode an urgent conclusion. In a surprise move, Rudess takes to the lower register of his instrument and Portnoy to his unison floor toms, establishing an almost tribal vibe (shades of Edgar Winter’s “Peace Pipe”!). Portnoy switches to a backbeat on brushes, while Levin undulates in the weeds on his Stick, truly hypnotic. The urgency grows.
How to add value to a classic? This is the question presented as Rudess, Berry, Phillips, Goodman, and Bonilla attack the ELP ditty “Hoedown”. You don’t reinvent the atom when you play a two-step, to be sure. You keep the tempo up, inject adrenaline, and push the track forward a few decades. Pay close attention to Robert Berry’s inventive bass part. The outro solo-trading is genuinely exciting, underscored by Phillip’s thunderous bass drums, all flappy and replete with sub-lows.
Quietly dramatic Randy Newman-style chords open “Beyond Tomorrow”, also from Rhythm of Time. This one is again testimony to Jordan’s essential romanticism. One of the more interesting tracks in this collection, “Tomorrow” delivers a sonic twist at each corner. Advance to 4:50 for a case in point: What are those keyboard patches? Or those samples murmuring underneath Daniel J’s guitar solo? No matter, it all resolves shortly with the melodramatic keys and return of Kip’s vocal.
From the album Feeding the Wheel, the track “Feed the Wheel” closes this collection. It embodies all of the Rudess attributes: the love of detail, the baroque touches, the incredibly dramatic chord changes. The melody, however, reigns supreme. Spurred on by Bozzio’s crisp rimshots and commanding punches, Rudess draws from a full palette of sonic textures, suggesting everything from string ensembles to breathy flute. You might want to give this one, and all of the above, another listen. There’s more than first meets the ear.
Enjoy Jordan Rudess in Prime Cuts and revel his exquisite taste and sense of balance.

credits

released August 14, 2006

1 UNIVERSAL MIND 7:53
Artist: Liquid Tension Experiment; Album: Liquid
Tension Experiment. Jordan Rudess: Keyboards;
John Petrucci: Guitars;Mike Portnoy: Drums;
Tony Levin: Bass, Stick and NS Upright Bass.

2 TEAR BEFORE THE RAIN 6:34
Artist: Jordan Rudess; Album: Rhythm Of Time.
Jordan Rudess: Keyboards and Lead Vocals; Kip
Winger: Lead Vocals; Rod Morgenstein: Drums;
Daniel J: Guitar; Jordan, Kip and Bert Baldwin:
Backup Vocals.

3 REVOLUTIONARY ETUDE 2:39
Artist: Jordan Rudess; Album: Steinway To
Heaven. Jordan Rudess: Piano.

4 OSMOSIS 4:19
Artist:Vapourspace Remix of Liquid Tension
Experiment; Album: Sonic Residue From
Vapourspace. Remixed and produced by
Mark Gage in Vapourspace.

5 FACELESS PASTICHE 4:27
Artist: Rod Morgenstein; Album: Modern
Drummer Presents DRUM NATION Volume One.
Jordan Rudess: Keyboards;
Rod Morgenstein: Drums and Percussion.

6 OUTCAST 4:25
Artist: Jordan Rudess; Album: 4NYC.
Jordan Rudess: Keyboards.

7 LIQUID DREAMS 10:50
Artist: Liquid Tension Experiment; Album: Liquid
Tension Experiment 2. Jordan Rudess: Keyboard;
John Petrucci: Guitars;Mike Portnoy: Drums and
Percussion; Tony Levin: Chapman Stick and Bass.

8 HOEDOWN 3:45
Album: Encores, Legends & Paradox (A Tribute To
ELP). Jordan Rudess: Keyboards; Robert Berry:
Bass; Simon Phillips: Drums; Jerry Goodman:
Violin;Marc Bonilla: Guitar.

9 BEYOND TOMORROW 9:58
Artist: Jordan Rudess; Album: Rhythm Of Time.
Jordan Rudess: Keyboards and Lead Vocals; Kip
Winger: Lead Vocals; Rod Morgenstein: Drums;
Daniel J: Guitar; Jordan, Kip and Bert Baldwin:
Backup Vocals.

10 FEED THE WHEEL 7:17
Artist: Jordan Rudess; Album: Feeding The Wheel.
Jordan Rudess: All Keyboards; Terry Bozzio: All
Drums and Percussion; John Petrucci: Guitar;
Mark Wood: Electric 7 String Viper Violin.

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