Drummer Dave Rudolph was spurred to release his own music after the death of his close friend, singer Jessica Hiltabidle. Hiltabidle, who died in February 2018, has left a legacy of tenaciously pursuing her art. Rudolph’s response to Hiltabidle’s passing was a realization that after years of being a sideman, he needed to record his own music –a project that was long overdue.
The result of this call to action is the album “Resonance.” The album was made available on Jan. 4, 2019. The recording itself is a stirring example of post-bop with some elements of zydeco and waltz and other genres showing up just to keep the energy flowing.
The album of nine songs is impressive. It is important for listeners to remember that Rudolph is not a novice, despite this being a debut album. His years as a respected sideman come through via his work on “Resonance” and in the work of the musicians he has chosen to constitute the ensemble that he plays with.
A Tampa, Florida-based drummer, Rudolph is joined by Zach Bornheimer on tenor saxophone, LaRue Nickelson on guitarist, Pablo Arencibia on piano and Alejandro Arenas on bass. Together, the quintet brings to life Rudolph’s original music.
The Rudolph Quintet is inspired by the sounds of Kenny Wheeler, Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell.
While all of the songs have merit, a few stand out by virtue of their sound and style.
“Atonement” by Rudolph Quintet
The song opens with a rush of drums and bass. The saxophone accents the piece with a “shriek” that sounds like a large, tonally aware bird calling from somewhere. The song exudes cool. Based on the name of the album, and the reason that inspired Rudolph to record it, some audiences might expect sadness to permeate the tracks, especially this one, given the title. That isn’t what happens here. The guitar and piano solos are especially nice. As this song opens the album, “Atonement” functions as an effective way to introduce audiences to the group.
“Lonely Train” by Rudolph Quintet
The song is built around a motif of guitar, drums and bass that sounds as wistful as its name suggests. The persistent low-key melancholy of the guitar is nearly blues-like. The song takes on a folk rock feel when the guitar cries just a bit as it edges ever closer to the forefront of the soundscape. The drums crash and shimmer in a way that suggests both jazz and rock. “Lonely Train’s” sound evokes images of rain and desolate places. Perfectly moody for a winter release.
Rudolph Quintet: “Night Squirrel”
If any song on “Resonance” is going to get people up to dance, it is this one. The up and down feel of the music is accented by rhythms that seem to have been borrowed from zydeco. Then, the saxophone begins to shine with a brilliant energy that seems to have come out of nowhere. The piano and drums make sure that those who are given to dance still have a beat to land on. The guitar showcase gives the song a modern feel. In all, the song becomes an unexpected exploration of sound.
Despite the inspiration for it having been recorded, “Resonance” is a celebration of jazz traditions. From beginning to end, there is no predictable motifs or approaches. Rudolph and his ensemble show their considerable talent on “Resonance.”