Upon a first casual listen to this spirited, sometimes easy and often frenetically swinging album, it feels like an amiable, imaginatively played collection spotlighting a major new jazz talent, Tampa based drummer Dave Rudolph, and a powerful group of local players assembled to help him fulfill his mostly high octane mission.
But when we look past the exuberant “Bounce” and brisk, playful “Whimsy” (two of the actual titles, perfectly reflecting their buoyant moods), we learn of a deeper emotional motivation for the project that lays the foundation for Rudolph’s grand emergence. It was inspired by the passing of his close friend Jessica, who had described their communications as having a special resonance.
So working with the incredibly intuitive and in synch, we need to hear more from them ensemble of Larue Nickelson (guitar), Zach Bornheimer (tenor sax), Pablo Arencibia (piano) and Alejandro Arenas (bass), the drummer aimed to recreate musically how importance this resonance was to me.
If his aim was to reflect the vibrancy of that friendship in music, he does it powerfully via the aforementioned pieces and other freewheeling gems like “The Vine” (centered on the rumbling interaction between Rudolph and Arencibia) and the action packed New Orleans flavored jam “Night Squirrel.”
Yet the heart of Resonance, which helps us empathize more deeply with his sense of loss, is the atmospheric, Americana influenced “Lonely Train,” a melancholy reflection inspired by the drummer’s train ride to Chicago for his friend’s memorial. It features the languid guitar lines of Nickelson that roll like fuzzy knocks on the heartstrings as Rudolph’s drums plow their way through the sadness to the light. The group expresses similar sentiments on the meditative title track, which features the transcendent wordless vocals of guest Whitney James intertwining beautifully with Nickelson’s strings.