An Evening With John Petrucci & Jordan Rudess juxatposes two of today’s most skillful virtuosos. Real-life friends and Dream Theater bandmates, Petrucci and Rudess take us on a journey deep into the night, through a diverse range of styles and long improvisations. “Fife And Drum” has all the quaintness of a Renaissance-era English party song, while “Bite Of The Mosquito” sends us on a frantic journey through a day in the life of one of the little bloodsuckers. The music is textured and complex. The pieces are characteristically long for these two, with five out of ten tracks topping nine minutes.
“Furia Taurina”, Spanish for “Bull’s Fury,” is the first track. At ten minutes long, it slowly introduces the listener to the overall style of the album. Petrucci plays for a good seven minutes in Spanish guitar and is accompanied by Rudess until they reach a crescendo. Focus shifts to Rudess who plays a jazz acoustic solo for the rest of the song, accompanied by Petrucci’s strumming as the song accelerates until the end.
“Truth” might be best appreciated as a soundtrack to some imagined film. The hero has finally embarked on the journey that his life has lead up to… well, until the six minute mark when Rudess’s acoustic piano solo shifts the song from Michael Bay to Blues Clues. But don’t worry. At the eight minute mark Petrucci effortlessly shifts from acoustic to electric and throws us hard back into some tragic Greek myth with an absolutely heroic solo.
“State of Grace” is a stunningly tender and romantic song that could squeeze the tears out a Clint Eastwood character. Petrucci supplies the soaring highs, while Rudess gives depth and movement with rich, low octaves and accompanying chords in the right hand. It’s my favorite song on the album.
The album goes on through Brazilian bossa nova-style piano on “Hang 11″, Indonesian gamelan on “From Within”, and “The Rena Song”, dedicated to Petrucci’s wife, Rena Sands Petrucci. The song is explicitly credited to only Petrucci, but the piano part is so well-interwoven I have difficultly imagining the possibility that it was not part of the original composition process.
Pop this in the CD player, take a bath, do your homework, sleep to it. It’s great music just to have on in the background. This album is one you can keep coming back to— you’ll find that the rhythms and melodies are so complex or quickly changing that you will not be able to memorize or hum along to any of the songs.
If you like short, economical tracks with a definite beat, a raging chorus, and consistent single emotion for the length of the song, you may not appreciate this type of recording. But if you want to get away from “mainstream rock,” and can’t quite handle music that sounds like it just came out of a Blendtech blender, then you will certainly appreciate the one-take musical tapestries that these bona fide virtuosos have offered.