By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
|Photo by Debra DiPaolo|
|Listen to Adam Rudolph:
Wait. Where did that guy come from? A second ago, Oguri was absent; now he's there, frozen angularly in a trim charcoal suit, his sharp black shadow nailed to a white wall by a side light. He moves. For about an hour, he stop-frames through thousands of permutations of face and posture: stretching out desperate arms, trembling like paper, struggling against a mighty wind, eviscerating himself with an invisible knife, stretching, collapsing, visage seized at odd moments by a deadly stare or a horrible smile.
Much of this is prompted by Rudolph -- the cavernous moans the percussionist gets by pressing a moistened fingertip across a conga head, the goat stampede he incites in his drums, the throat-singing Tuvan buzz he seems to produce from nowhere, the brief chants he occasionally shouts out. Cline, meanwhile, conjures unprecedented jangles and drones, subtly torturing his pickups and teasing out feedback. "I like doing it this way," he says afterward, downplaying the genius of his methodology. "I don't exactly play guitar -- I sort of wave it around."
At the end, Oguri stands rigid at center stage. And. Section by bodily section. The tension. Ebbs. Out of him. And he's there, just a human. The catharsis hits like an ocean breaker, and the overcapacity audience, many sitting on floor pillows, goes nuts. All right, gang. You did it.
Though Rudolph has spent some 30 years studying percussion techniques from Africa, India, Indonesia and wherever, he's the first to say that the impact he achieves comes not from strict traditionalism, but from applying his knowledge to the fundamental emotions he shares with people all over the world. "You could devote a lifetime to one tradition and still not master it," he says, "because of the connection of the music to the local life itself. People are playing their experience, and it's always been my desire to play mine."
That experience has been broad enough to forge links to most anybody. Raised in Chicago's Hyde Park district, Rudolph found himself, in the late '60s and early '70s, a neighbor to members of the experimental Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (Muhal Richard Abrams, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc.), as well as bluesmen Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. He caught a dose of hand-drumming fever from which he has never recovered, and, following a path that benefited Randy Weston, Art Blakey and Tony Williams, traveled to West Africa at age 21 to spend a year exacerbating his affliction.
Rudolph was one of the first to bounce diverse world musicians off each other, forming the Mandingo Griot Society with his old friend reedman Ralph Jones and Gambian kora player Foday Muso Susa in 1977, soon to be joined by Ornette Coleman's "twin," the late trumpeter Don Cherry, whom many credit with virtually inventing "world" music. Cherry added his indefinable smoke to much of Rudolph's music, including Gift of the Gnawa, a trancey 1991 project with the versatile Moroccan musician Hassan Hakmoun.
"Don was always finding a way to create with musicians from any kind of background," says Rudolph. "Much of what's happening with music now, especially improvised music, is a result of his efforts."
In 1979, Rudolph dropped by Los Angeles to visit his mentor and collaborator Charles Moore, a trumpeter he'd met at Oberlin, and stayed -- at least when he wasn't touring in Europe, Japan, South America or the Middle East.
"L.A. is one of the most difficult places to present your music," he says, "but it's a nice place to raise my daughter, and I like being away from the trendiness of the New York scene. There's so much space to find your own voice and direction here, and over the years I've encountered so many world-class, fantastic musicians."