Jordan Rudess
August 29th, 2003
Amphitheatre, Este, Italy

By Coen van der Zanden

Last week I was on vacation in Italy, and this was planned so that I could attend a solo concert of the keyboardist of Dream Theater, Jordan Rudess. According to the flyers it would be a mix of acoustic and electronic music. The venue was a big castle in the middle of the centre of a small village called Este.

The concert was sold out, and as I could see there were about 500 people seated.
On the stage was a 9 foot Steinway Grand Piano, and opposite of that a Kurzweil K2600 synthesizer. In the back was a Korg Karma.

A little after 9 PM the concert was opened by a little story. A friend translated it to me, and it seemed to be a father who lost his son last year in an accident. He was a bass player on the verge of making his breakthrough, and his father wanted to keep him remembered by creating a possiblity for young musicians to make a demo.
Through this and other concerts he is raising funds to do so.

After his speech Jordan Rudess took place behind the grand piano and opened with a beautifull piece.
When finished he walked up to the microphone and told the audience this was his first solo concert in italy. He was happy to play on this ancient location and he also talked about his wife and daughters who were there that evening too.
He explained that the concert would be completely improvised, using some of his synthesizer sounds to lead him.

He would do one or two pieces on the synthesizer, then changing to the piano and so on.
the first songs on the synthesizers were very etnic sounding. I heard some African chanting whilst another song used very Indian sounds. He would sometimes trigger a beat, and played some really great leads over it.

The last song before intermission he played on the piano, and there were all kinds of Dream Theater excerpts in a classical sounding piece. The audience could really appreciate it.

As said, it was mainly improvised, so besides the Dream Theater snippets I only recognised Nightwind, from his "Official Bootleg" album. I don't think the rest are official songs (yet).

The total concert took about two hours, and besides some electronical feedback from the synthesizer his playing was completely flawless. Now and then you only heard the wind going through the piano microphomes.
I knew the guy could play, but he really seems to do it all, from classic to rock.

He is also a very nice guy because afterwards he took the time to get his pictures taken and giving autographes to almost the complete audience. I think he must have been standing there for more than an hour.
I would love to see him doing more of this solo stuff, and if it's held indoor then the overall sound will probably be better. the concert was also recorded with about 6 cameramen so maybe something official will come out of it.

Jordan Rudess

Photo by Coen van der Zanden


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