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Five Albums That Changed My Life: Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater

MSO PR

Dream Theater keyboard maestro Jordan Rudess is in the fourth decade of his musical career and he’s never been busier. Not only has he been out on the road in support of ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events, Dream Theater’s 11th studio album, he’s also promoting his three iPad apps: MorphWiz, SampleWiz and the Geo Synthesizer, which was released last month.

Born and raised in New York, Rudess has been a lifelong musician, entering Juilliard School of Music Pre-College Division for classical piano training at age 9. Besides his stellar work with Dream Theater, Rudess’ discography also features 12 solo albums, four albums as a member of Liquid Tension Experiment, plus an array of guest appearances on albums by artists like Behold… the Arctopus and Steven Wilson.

In spite of his hectic schedule, Noisecreep still managed to get Rudess on the phone to have him take part in our ‘Five Albums That Changed My Life’ series.

‘Tarkus,’ Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1971)

“I come from a very classical music type of background. I studied piano throughout my childhood and into my teen years. ‘Tarkus’ changed my life because it was the first time I heard something so musically progressive on the piano be played with so much power behind it. I was 18 when one of my friends played it for me. It was during the period I was leaving Julliard. When I heard Keith Emerson [keyboardist] on that album, it was a complete awakening for me. The combination of the energy, the harmonies and intricate chord changes, opened up my mind to the possibilities of what I could do with a keyboard.”

‘Electric Ladyland,’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)

“For me, Hendrix was always the master of cool. He epitomized that whole trippy, musician kind of vibe. That was something that really captured me as a kid. I always had ‘Electric Ladyland’ by my turntable, ready to be played. His use of the wah-wah pedal was so cutting edge. It literally sounded like his guitar was talking. I still haven’t heard anyone make a wah-wah pedal sound like that. When you look back, Hendrix wasn’t the biggest virtuoso that ever was, but he just had a unique way of playing music that has had a lasting influence on everything.”

‘Free Hand,’ Gentle Giant (1975)

“Gentle Giant was a really interesting band and had a unique way of fusing rock with classical music. They had an uncanny sense of counterpoints and rhythm that was really amazing. As a matter of fact, I used to follow the band around whenever they played anywhere near me. They all played multiple instruments and put on a great show. I would say that their music had the most impact on me in terms of the rhythmical side of things.”

‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ Pink Floyd (1973)

“This was a huge album in my life, but I’m sure some people will be surprised that I would choose it for this list. What I mean is that a lot of Dream Theater fans might think I would be more into something more technical and with more chops, but I’m also really attracted to gentle music too. I love the way Floyd was able to capture all of these colors with their music without using a lot of notes. It was really spacey and open. Dream Theater actually covered this entire album a few years back on tour and it gave me some problems since there are so many different keyboard sounds. So there are so many great memories in both my personal and professional life tied to this record.”

‘Close to the Edge,’ Yes (1972)

“I’ve always loved Jon Anderson’s voice. There’s something really beautiful and pure about it. It’s like a magical kind of sound. But there are so many other things I also love about Yes. There are a band filled with really amazing players. The way their parts intertwined with each other was so powerful, and then having Anderson’s voice on top of that made it even more special. The word “glorious” comes to mind when I think about that album.”

Check out Rudess and Dream Theater on tour:

Jan. 23 – Icehall, Helsinki, Finland
Jan. 25 – Hovet, Stockholm, Sweden
Jan. 26 – Valhall, Oslo, Norway
Jan. 27 – KB Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Jan. 29 – Arena Hall, Poznan, Poland
Jan. 30 – Columbialle, Berlin, Germany
Feb. 1 – Ijsselhallen, Zwolle, Holland
Feb. 2 – Mitsubishi Electric-Halle, Dusseldorf, Germany
Feb. 3 – Le Zenith, Paris, France
Feb. 5 – AWD Hall, Hannover, Germany
Feb. 6 – Stadthalle, Offenbach, Germany
Feb. 8 – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Scotland
Feb. 9 – Apollo, Manchester, England
Feb. 10 – Arena, Wembley, England
Feb. 12 – Rockhal, Luxembourg
Feb. 13 – Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
Feb. 14 – Sportzentrum Tagerhard, Wettingen (Zurich), Switzerland
Feb. 17 – Arena, Budapest, Hungary
Feb. 18 – Gasometer, Vienna, Austria
Feb. 20 – Palasport, Pordenone, Italy
Feb. 21 – Mediolanum Forum, Milan, Italy
Feb. 22 – Palaevangelisti, Perugia, Italy
Feb. 24 – Palau St Jordi, Barcelona, Spain
Feb. 25 – Palacio Vistalegre, Madrid, Spain
Feb. 26 – Coliseum, Lisbon, Portugal

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