An interview with keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess

Jordan Rudess
Jordan Rudess

Getting three busy world-class musicians to come together for an album is a task as complex as some of the music they’ll produce. For Tony Levin (bass, Chapman Stick), Marco Minnemann (drums) and Jordan Rudess (Keyboards), it was a no brainer to do a follow-up to their 2013 “Levin, Minnemann, Rudess” debut. They just had to wait for a window of opportunity when all three could be free.

The result is a new album called “From the Law Offices of Levin, Minnemann, Rudess” where these three virtuosos let loose some amazing instrumental rock. Keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess took time from his busy schedule touring South America with Dream Theater to answer my questions.

When it came time to write material for the album, the band started without any preconceived ideas of the result. “I like to free the limits whenever possible on the creative process,” he explains. “What’s cool about LMR is that everybody is a composer and we all contributed heavily to the process.”

From the Law Offices of Levin, Minnemann, Rudess
From the Law Offices of Levin, Minnemann, Rudess

Songs begin with one member, either as a promising idea or an almost fully formed piece. “We send our ideas to the other guys and let them do their thing with it,” Rudess says.  “For me it very often means going on a sonic adventure adding colors to what I’m given.”

The trio formula, with drums, bass and keyboards creates a sonic palette that’s very different from Rudess’s work with Dream Theater. “Playing with one of the greatest guitarists in the world (John Petrucci) in Dream Theater is a privilege, and I enjoy my role in the band,” he says. Yet the musician goes on to admit that “to work on a sonic picture that does not include what at times is a massive guitar sound is liberating.”

But Rudess appreciates the contrast between the two bands. “It’s always a great feeling to record an LMR album after doing a Dream Theater record,” he says. “They are such different types of musical adventures. There is a lot of flexibility generally so I always have a ton of fun working on the ideas Tony and Marco give me!”

The album recording took place over a span of about two months, during what Rudess calls “a trip visiting my home planet”, an expression he used a few times to describe coming off touring. A technology nut, he used a wide arsenal of virtual synths and FX including Wizdom Music’s GeoShred for iPad (a company he happens to have founded). He rattles off with enthusiasm a list of the material he used to create the soundscapes of this record: “Korg Kronos, Heavyocity, Alchemy, Omnisphere, Kontakt, Overloud, Sample Modeling, Sample Logic, Plugin Guru, Synthogy and Izotope instruments to name a handful!”

“From the Law Offices of Levin, Minnemann, Rudess” comes out on July 15th. Before ending the conversation, I asked Rudess if we’ll ever get the chance to see the trio live. “When I return to earth we will begin that discussion. But it could be a while…”

Jean-Frederic Vachon
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