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Jordan Rudess - Notes on a dream CD (album) cover

NOTES ON A DREAM

Jordan Rudess

Crossover Prog


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Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The new Jordan Rudess album Notes On A Dream is a like the beacon far off in the distance that will lead us all back from whence we came. In spirit, that light brings him home where he belongs.

This correlation also applies to the artist getting back to his roots and giving the nod to the classical underpinnings of his music. The 70s prog-rock influences of such bands as Gentle Giant and Genesis are sited as well. These bands helped to launch a fabulous career and give Dream Theater a partner in making some of the most exciting and progressive music over the last 20 some years.

In a word the 12 tracks on this recording are Dream Theater favorites that Rudess decided to interpret in their most simplest and elegant form through the acoustic piano.

The seed was planted by Jordan's wife Danielle, then it eventually germinated after much thought and a process that the artist explains as difficult at first. The hard work paid off as it all resulted in a beautiful flower blooming showing off all its colors. I know this hardly sounds like an introduction to Dream Theater songs- the powerful progressive metal all fans of the band know so well. So where are all the churning and swirling keyboards that Jordan so expertly provides for the band here? Think of a man taking the dark and powerful and revealing the lighter gentler side of the music by peeling off all the layers and revealing one stand alone level as statement to the true essence of how these compositions came together from one band member's perspective. Let us not forget the improvisational aspects of what is accomplished through this admittedly risqué and complex process. Some songs are instantly recognizable and others may take a bit longer to sink in at first. This is all dependent on your knowledge of the Dream Theater music and how personally in touch you may be and what level of intensity that relationship is.

The hard core rockers that love the Dream Theater sound may be totally taken aback and not able to see the forest through the trees and others will be able to hear and feel what the new meanings this talented artist has brought to each track.

Listening to "Another Day" which is flawless and brilliant, cries out for James LaBrie to accompany Jordan through the journey yet it is so powerful and convincing that I could hear James singing all the words as Jordan tickled the ivories and coaxed every note to sing along in the place of the lead singer. This is a very convincing and beautiful interpretation of one of Dream Theater's most memorable tracks.

After a few listens you realize that all 12 tracks are exceptional and find a new appreciation for the music of Dream Theater and how one member can take these complex progressive metal rock tracks and turn them inside out and make them all new, like a new coat of glossy paint.

My respect for the artist, his band and Classical music made this an easy transition and with each listen I began to fall in love with this album. Jordan Rudess really does make this experience Notes On A Dream.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#222827)
Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
2 stars ""[b]Jordan Rudess biography[/b] Jordan Rudess is a classically trained keyboardist""

States his bio. I'm sure you would nod to this fact after listening this album. I saw him on Score dvd. His fingers are quick like running spider's legs. It reminds me John Myung's style. I mean style, because he's not much to be heard. Here, no one is to be heard, except piano. First I though that I'll give this five stars, because I though this is how masterpiece should look like (well, sounds like). Maybe it is, someone may see perfection in this. I can appreciate it, but not so much. Perhaps later, when I'll be older.

To put it short, if you like piano and Dream Theater's music, you'll love this too. Jordan is piano/keyboard virtuoso, his skill with keys (those keys) is undoubtable (try last section of "The Spirit Carries On", I think he made all these sounds at once => he played with his both hands, not one after another). I even found myself singing (not so strange, I know DT for quite a long time) and, you know, DT without LaBrie gains something new (and loses something, but that's the price).

This album is Dream Theater songs acoustic taken to another level. Give away all rock instruments, leave just piano and play these sounds stripped to the bone. When you consider that this is just piano (played by master) and this music could be composed easily few hundreds years ago, it's kinda weird. "The Answer Lies Within" sounds similar to normal version. Guess why. In fact after listening this, I realised how is DT's music imbued by piano sound.

Well, for good acoustic DT, we should appreciate him a little bit. Give him some credit. But it's also bad because I lack rock instruments, good because of his skills. But this bad is just little bad, so more like worse good.

2(+)

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#229894)
Posted Tuesday, August 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Notes On A Dream is just a classical music album with songs from Dream Theater and other musicians, that Jordan Rudess make them sound like sonatas. Songs with only a grand piano and two magic hands that only JR could have.

The album is full of classical parts and some jazz parts, and that's why jazz and classical music fans can also listen this album. Great technical and brilliant orchestrations from one of the most popular keyboard players in progressive music.

Another album that prove the talent of the keyboardist of Dream Theater. For me is his perfect element as solo player and one of the greatest releases of 2009.

I suggest it to everyone who loves just the music.

Dream Theater songs from the album: Through Her Eyes - Scenes From A Memory Lifting Shadows Off A Dream - Awake The Silent Man - Awake Another Day - Images & Words Hollow Years - Falling Into Infinity The Spirit Carries On - Scenes From A Memory The Answer Lies Within - Octavarium Vacant - Train Of Thought

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Send comments to Macubert (BETA) | Report this review (#232207)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Wonderful collection of songs with great piano arrangements...

Well, if you already knew the work of Jordan Rudess, The Wizard, then you should be confident about this album. I know that many people don't like his sounds and patches, sometimes I feel he tries so hard... but when he's infront a proper piano, he shows why he is the ultimate and most capable keyboard player in the prog arena, and maybe one of the best musicians of our time... Yes, here we have a pure piano album, which seems a little weird in progressive rock, but this is it., a must have for a Dream Theater lover, for pianists lovers, for melodic lovers and even for those who cannot stand the so much called "show off" from DT...

You have a collection of slow and soft songs from DT -songs that are not meant for show off, very good selection of nice and warm pieces from their entire cathalogue-. Jordan rides his piano like a master, doing things that most of us, mortal humans, wishes to play at least at half speed... I am a keyboard player and find very though to keep me interest on most of rock music because the lack of creativity in the keyboards, but DT is great about it, and piano versions of their songs is the right thing to really understand the quality of the songs on itself along with the quality of musician Jordan is...

Is amazing to hear that Jordan can cover all the instruments with his piano skills... doing melody, harmony and even some percussion-like and bass line all at the same time. Guess there will be no better solo piano in centuries... and I mean it... of course, if you like DT this is for you... if you hate them, well this is also for you... there's no Metallica sound or Labrie singing... is pure and delightfull piano, with great selection of songs... the three original songs that jordan put in are not that great, maybe because it doesn't have a clear melody as the others, but still are interesting...

I put it 4 stars because will be weird to have a masterpiece without guitars on it... right...??? i think it diserves 5 stars... but taking care of the rest of musicians fans of drums and guitars... I give just 4 stars... Great album... very enjoyable...

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Send comments to jampa17 (BETA) | Report this review (#245707)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Albums of this nature are difficult to rate and review; this album from keyboard master Jordan Rudess is a collection of Dream Theater songs reworked for one man and his piano. That means it is an album of covers, and it is only piano music, which quite naturally would pique the interest of anyone who appreciates Dream Theater or classical piano, but at the same time, might lack appeal to any other audience. Rudess is, it goes without saying, a dedicated and masterful musician, and because of that, I tend to think that he overdoes it, strangling the most delicate pieces with highly proficient runs and arpeggios, many of which don't even work within the context of the music. That said, this is some really amazing work by one of progressive metal's most talented keyboardists, although I am constrained to review it on its own flaws and merits (rather than compare it to other albums in Crossover). Therefore my rating comes with a humongous disclaimer: If you are fond of virtuosic piano music, this is highly recommended, even though I myself find several of the versions here needlessly flashy.

"Through Her Eyes" Many tender flourishes pop in between each line (some of them blues scales), which can make such a warm piece seem far busier than it should. The original itself is such a simple track in terms of chord progressions, that it would seem necessary to add such frequent runs throughout, but that is not so- a simpler, kinder treatment would have allowed the melody to breathe on its own.

"Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" Rudess works the expanse of the keyboard on this rendition, using arpeggios to underscore the simplistic melody.

"Perpetuum Mobile" This is one of two pieces that are not from Dream Theater. As one can figure out by the name, this is a brief, rapid, and complex piece of music.

"The Silent Man" Similar to the opener, this version takes a relatively undemanding piece of music and packs it full of runs.

"Another Day" Varied in volume and involvedness in the beginning, it's gorgeous to hear that familiar melody eventually ring through- well done.

"Hollow Years" One of my favorite Dream Theater songs, I was eager to hear what Rudess would do with such a wonderful and powerful melody. He treats the piece with care, keeping the embellishments at a respectable level, for once allowing them to complement the flow rather than dominate it.

"The Grand Escapement" This extremely busy piece hurts my fingers just listening to it! It is chock full of bluesy soloing and low riffs.

"The Spirit Carries On" Although this song comes from my favorite Dream Theater album, I've always maintained that this is one of the band's more banal moments (there were more from that album, and I still regard it as my most cherished), so taking that and stripping it down makes for some really uninteresting listening. I much rather would have heard his take on something more ambitious, like "Overture 1928" or "Strange Déjà Vu."

"Speak To Me" This covers a track from the official bootlegs for Falling Into Infinity, and is a beautiful, poignant bit of music with some stirring chord work.

"The Answer Lies Within" Once again, here is a gentler piece almost ruined with, dare I say it, goofy bluesy runs and out-of-context flourishes.

"Collision Point" Barely passing the minute mark, this is a very brief yet completely original piece, demonstrating the man's mastery over eighty-eight keys.

"Vacant" This cut from Train of Thought is given a dreary makeover, with excellent ornamental playing to fill out the sound.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#255529)
Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Too much of anything...

The Good: Works well as both background music and something more engaging. Also the three new pieces are pretty cool, my favourite being The Grand Escapement.

The Bad: I like Jordan Rudess' music in general and enjoy this album a lot. However, I cannot justify awarding it a higher rating as I think the only people that will appreciate this are fans of both him and his band. When all's said and done it's just some DT classics with intermittent interpretive flourishes and unless you are already familiar with these songs you may soon tire of this single instrument album. If this release was merited on technicality and musicianship alone it would be five stars for sure but given the PA guidelines I feel it only reaches two.

The Verdict: Still worth checking out.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#440060)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 | Review Permalink

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