Rudess, Jordan - 4NYC

Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:06:00

There's a tendency to not want to say a bad thing about an album (or anything, really) when it is done for a good cause, lest one feel guilty. Fortunately, this point becomes moot when we consider this CD, Jordan Rudess' 4NYC. Firstly, it is an album of music that stands up on its own -- the music isn't dependent upon the context for which it was performed and recorded. The live performances were recorded last September 24, at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center; a concert scheduled to enable Rudess to help the victims of the September 11 attacks through raising funds for the American Red Cross. Proceeds from the sale of this CD, to be released on September 10*, will be donated to various charitable organizations "in memory of the lives lost on September 11, 2001." But as I said, it stands on its own, as Rudess is neither maudlin nor treacly. Anyone who knows Rudess only from his keyboard work with Dream Theater will be amazed as what a terrific keyboardist Rudess is -- on pianos, synths, you name it. I was, as I feel his contribution to Dream Theater is overshadowed by Labrie on vocals and Petrucci on guitar.

Though Rudess played both improved selections and music from Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment, he felt the improvised pieces came out best. These live performances are supplemented by additional, improvised tracks that Rudess recorded in his studio.

Secondly, there's just no two ways about it, it is an impressive album of music... mostly somber, but lyrical, with the exception of the at times playful "Lamb Chops," where "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Chopsticks" form the basis for Rudess' improv, with a dash of vaudevillian flavour. "One Voice" is the kind of piece you know will get played as background music to a montage of images from that dark day in US (and world) history... It's haunting, reverent, somber... you don't even need to see the footage to see the visuals, if your memories are strong enough. "Mourning After" has that same effect, but in a different way. Rather than haunting, recalling the dark images, it is light, recalling the uplifting images of the survival of the spirit. Mourning yes, but not mournfully. Recalling the lives of those lost, not the deaths of those lost, you might say.

It's hard to believe that the live tracks were improvised, as they seem like that they had have been composed. There's no wandering passages were Rudess could have become too in love with the sound of his own playing, no moments that dwell on any one particular phrase because one likes it. One thinks that with improv, one will get carried away... well, like a jam, though it becomes harder when it's one instrument versus several, as you've multiple directions a piece can take. No, let's not dwell upon what it is not, because what it is is so much more. The longer pieces are those that were recorded in-studio, but most (in either setting) rarely exceed five minutes. What you get then is an hour's worth of beautiful music.

Rudess played a 9-foot Steinway grand piano, and, as you might expect from such an instrument, the tones are warm and sonorous. In the studio pieces, Rudess' palette is richer, where the sound of harps back "If I Could." And yet, the live "A Step Beyond," includes a sampled percussive loop, along with other spacey keyboard effects... though it's the piano of Rudess that is the focus. This is probably the most sonically active track, ending with a bit jazzy piano trills at the end. "Outcast" is a little chilly, a single note echoing outside of the others, reinforcing the isolation. Synths provide a bit of an electronic flavour, and, I daresay, at the beginning and at the end, it sounds a bit like the theme from The X-Files played in slow motion.

In some ways, it seems impossible that a year has gone by as it seems like just yesterday the towers fell. But, a year has passed, and to mark that, will see grim reminders of what happened - every station will broadcast something. Even now, as I write this, MSNBC is replaying (for the nth time probably), their special "24 Hours At Ground Zero." All of which makes Rudess' album refreshing. Even though it was recorded a year ago, it's fresh music - a testament to the resilience of the human species. It honors those lost without, as I said, resorting to the maudlin. And, thankfully, without resorting to an overstated sense of patriotism. Bravo to Rudess' on all accounts.

* it has been available through Rudess' site directly for some time, however.

My Thoughts* (2:10) / If I Could (7:07) / A Step Beyond* (4:12) / Outcast (4:24) / Lamp Chops* (2:39) / Within (5:32) / One Voice* (3:48) / Real Time* (3:23) / Mourning After (6:05) / Darkness To Day* (5:32) / Speed As Light* (3:34) / On My World (5:56) / For You (5:45)

* live

Jordan Rudess - 9-foot Steinway, Kurzweil 2600, Korg Karma

Speedway Blvd. - Speedway Blvd. (1981)
Arrival (1988)
Vinnie Moore - Time Odyssey (1988)
Tom Coster - Did Jah Miss Me? (1989)
Listen (1993)
Annie Haslem - Blessing In Disguise (1994)
Various - Romscape (1995)
Noirin Ni Riain - Celtic Soul (1996)
Various - Steinway To Heaven (1996)
Kip Winger - This Conversation Seems Like A Dream (1997)
Secrets Of The Muse (1997)
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment (1998)
Jupiter Lee - Jupiter Project (1998)
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1999)
A Christmas Carol (1999)
Rudess/Morgenstein Project - Rudess/Morgenstein Project (1999)
Resonance (1999)
Rhonda Larson - Free As A Bird (1999)
Various - Encores, Legends & Paradox - A Tribute To ELP (1999)
Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory (2000)
Paul Winter And The Earth Band - Journey With The Sun (2000)
Feeding The Wheel (2001)
John Petrucci And Jordan Rudess - An Evening With John Petrucci & Jordan Rudess (2001/2004)
Rudess/Morgenstein Project - The Official Bootleg (2001)
Dream Theater - Live Scenes From New York (2001)
McGill/Manring/Stevens - Addition By Subtraction (2001)
Prefab Sprout - The Gunman And Other Stories (2001)
John Bollenberg Experience - If Only Stones Could Speak (2001)
4NYC (2002)
Dream Theater - Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence (2002)
Christmas Sky (2002) (from website only)
Dream Theater - Train Of Thought (2003)
Dream Theater - Live At Budokan (2004)
Rhythm Of Time (2004)
Dream Theater - Octavarium (2005)
Dream Theater - Score (2006)
Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos (2007)
The Road Home (2007)
Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) (2008)
Notes On A Dream (2009)
Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
Dream Theater - Dream Theater (2013)
Dream Theater - Live At Luna Park (2013)
All That Is Now (2013)
Explorations For Keyboard & Orchestra (2014)
Dream Theater - Breaking The Fourth Wall - Live From The Boston Opera House (2014)
The Unforgotten Path (2015)
Dream Theater - The Astonishing (2016)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin US

Added: September 8th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 543
Language: english


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