JORDAN RUDESS - MAESTRO AND MENTOR
at the Tarrytown Music Hall in New York!
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Jordan Rudess performed a rare solo show at the historic Tarrytown Music Hall on Sunday, January 23, 2011. Rudess is a composer, producer and classically trained pianist. Jordan has collaborated with many musicians but is best known for his work with Dream Theater and The Dixie Dregs. He is now mentoring a new generation of artists including a Turkish prodigy by the name of Eren Basbug and Project RnL (Eyal Amir & Ray Livnat) from Israel.


Jordan Rudess thanks the audience after his rare solo gig.

The concert featured Jordan's composition "Explorations", which was written for an orchestra but in this venue was played on two keyboards. The repertoire also included renditions of music from Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment. Special guest vocalist James LaBrie (DT) added to the "Explorations" event. The Tarrytown show also highlighted Jordan's acclaimed Billboard-award winning app (2010) MorphWiz.

"Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra" premiered with two shows on one night in Caracas, Venezuela on November 19, 2010. During these sold-out performances, Eren Basbug conducted the Chacao Youth Symphony Orchestra as Rudess played all of the keyboard/synthesizer parts.

In Tarrytown, Jordan Rudess took his seat at his trusty Korg, opening with a dynamic instrumental version of "Hollow Years" that blended piano and synthesizer sounds. The piece went from dainty to dramatic. Throughout the evening, the audience was attentive and appreciative of the diverse set of music that Jordan and Friends presented.

"Hey everybody - cool -welcome," greeted Jordan as the show began. Rudess appeared in good spirits as he talked about the amazing talent from around the globe that would be performing tonight. Rudess touched on the fact that he has been very busy speaking at conventions and preparing for the "Explorations" show. Rudess also demonstrated the Morphwiz - a mind-blowing APP for the Ipad that literally puts the power of digital music at your fingertips.

Jordan also took a moment for one more "commercial" to plug a piano patch software called Ivory which was extensively used during the show and as Rudess mentioned - on Dream Theater's most recent tour as well.

"Sit back and enjoy the show," stated Jordan as he moved into the second piece - a Harp improv that melded spacey, new age sounds in patterns that were pretty and precise. Rudess than explained how he heard about Eren Basbug who had orchestrated Dream Theater's music. Eren's name had come up a number of times so Jordan checked Basbug out on the Internet and was amazed at this young talent and made a connection. With that introduction, Eren took his place at the keyboard across from Jordan.

Their exchanges were a lavish and layered musical conversation punctuated by the wild sounds of the Morphwiz. Jordan thanked the crowd and his wife Danielle who had made this event a reality. Rudess mentioned that he and the guys from Project RnL were fans of Porcupine Tree. Vocalist Ray Livat came out to sing "I Drive the Hearse" and "Lazarus" from the aforementioned band. Both were vibrant versions and Ray's vocals were impressive.

The other performers left the stage as Jordan played a whimsical mix of speeds and styles with drum sounds mixed in. Rudess joked "that was an amazing drummer, we should hire him" before saying that "the big announcement is that there will be no big announcement" - alluding to the fact that Mike Portnoy's replacement has yet to be named even though the band is in the studio working on a new record.

"So enjoy the music," Jordan stated before going into a free flowing composition of cascading notes that moved into a masterful medley of Pink Floyd songs based off of "Hey You" from The Wall. The piece moved into a frenzied mix of drum and percussion sounds with Jordan jesting that if he didn't slow down he would not make it through the night.

Eren Basbug, Eyal Amir and Ray Livnat joined Rudess for a three keyboard assault with Ray singing an intriguing series of scales that accented his incredible range. The keyboards swirled around his singing. The song - "Another One" - showcased more tantalizing tones from the Morphwiz. "Wake" featured string like sounds from the keyboards supporting Ray's soaring singing, which was operatic at times.

After a short break, Jordan mentioned that he and Dream Theater have been to South America many times and there was a promoter in Venezuela who encouraged Jordan to write music for an orchestra. Although Jordan thought it was a good idea it had not worked out. Then he connected with Eren and the timing seemed right. "Explorations" was composed by Rudess and orchestrated by Basbug. At first, Jordan had called it a concerto, which troubled Basbug who was happier when the piece was named "Explorations". This better described all the changes in the composition which did not adhere to the strict concept that the term concerto suggested.

"Explorations" as the name implies was an exploration of melody and moods flowing from one shimmering musical stanza to another. The music was varied and vibrant with the two keyboards combined and interspersed with solos. Both were beautiful players and the interplay was brilliant. The music was colorful and complex and one could imagine many of the elements in a Dream Theater song.

Jordan did mention that DT was back in the studio and very inspired, but also that his schedule as of late has been nutty with rehearsals for "Explorations" ended at two in the morning on that Sunday. Basbug left the stage as Jordan played an expansive instrumental that incorporated sections of "Moonchild" and "In the Court of the Crimson King". Rudess mentioned that he hears so many beautiful melodies in the progressive music of bands like Genesis, King Crimson and Yes.

At that point, Jordan introduced James Labrie aka the pirate. James (sporting shoulder length hair) was rather chatty stating that it was Jordan who came up with the nickname and commenting that its harder to pull off pirate with this hair cut saying that currently, " I look like more like Bill Ray Cyrus."

James then mentioned how impressed he was with these young musicians who were really raising the bar. Jordan and James along with Eren performed two songs from Scenes From A Memory. The stripped down versions of "Through Her Eyes" and "The Spirit Carries On" which was the encore were stellar with the keyboard parts more pronounced. They also performed the haunting "Coming Home" from James' solo album Static Impulse. The song was one of the subtler ones on a record that has been described as heavy and features some daunting death metal vocals.

"'Space Dye Vest' was Kevin Moore's swan-song with Dream Theater," explained James who said he had the utmost respect for the former DT member. It was the last song Kevin did with the band and "it was very different from what we were doing, especially at the time of Awake".

This song that was penned by Moore was never played live by the band and the evening's performance was described as its public debut. It had plenty of poignant piano parts for Jordan and James whispering vocals added to the moody mystery of the song.

Jordan's concert at the Tarrytown Music Hall featured a diverse range of music and global musicians. It was exciting to witness Rudess continuing to grow as an artist with his "Explorations" and an innovator with the Morphwiz. Just as inspiring was the new generation of gifted musicians at the start of what should be prolonged and productive careers.


The poster for Jordan's special gig at the Tarrytown Music Hall.

Related Links: For more information on JORDAN RUDESS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- JordanRudess.com | James LaBrie | Dream Theater | Morphwiz.com | Tarrytown Music Hall

(Originally Published on January 25, 2011)

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