Jordan Charles Rudess (born Jordan Charles Rudes, November 4, 1956) is an American virtuoso keyboardist, music technology developer, and composer. He is considered one of THE greatest keyboardists of all time and frequently tops any online poll on the subject. He is most prominently known as the keyboardist for Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment and as the owner of the iOS based music technology company, Wizdom Music. He's also been a guest keyboardist on a large number of side projects, from Ayreon to Neal Morse.
Jordan Rudess began playing piano in the second grade and picked it up very quickly, getting enrolled in the prestigious Juilliard at the age of nine to be trained as a classical pianist. As a teen, he discovered Progressive Rock and the Moog synthesizer, and stopped his training as a classical musician to pursue a career as a solo Progressive Rock artist. He played in several projects in the 80s and gained notoriety after he won a reader poll in Keyboard Magazine for best new talent. He would then join The Dixie Dregs as a part-time keyboardist, and form a sort of power-duo with Rod Morgenstein.
In 1997, Mike Portnoy invited him to play as the keyboardist in a Progressive Rock supergroup called Liquid Tension Experiment. After two albums there, they asked him to join Dream Theater. He agreed, replacing Derek Sherinian, and helping them release their magnum opus, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. He became the permanent keyboardist of the band, and to date has been all of their releases since he joined. He's enjoyed an extensive solo career on the side of that, exploring every genre from electronic music to Progressive Rock to Classical to Solo Piano.
In 2010, he started the company Wizdom Music to create new music software and new ways to use smartphones and tablets as music instruments. Wizdom Music has also developed apps in everything from music education to camera apps. Outside of his music apps, he has also helped promote and launch several keyboard technologies, including the Roli Seaboard, harpejji, haken continuum, and the XKey Air Bluetooth Controller. He also has an online music education website, called the Jordan Rudess Online Conservatory.
- Arrival (1988)
- Listen (1993)
- Secrets of the Muse (1997)
- Rudess/Morgenstein Project (1997)
- Resonance (1999)
- An Evening with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess (2000)
- Feeding the Wheel (2001)
- 4NYC (2002)
- Christmas Sky (2002)
- Rhythm of Time (2004)
- Prime Cuts (2006)
- The Road Home (2007)
- Notes on a Dream (2009)
- All That Is Now (2013)
- Levin Minnemann Rudess (2013)
- Explorations (2014)
- The Unforgotten Path (2015)
- Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)
- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)
- Train of Thought (2003)
- Octavarium (2005)
- Systematic Chaos (2007)
- Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
- A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
- Dream Theater (2013)
- The Astonishing (2016)
- Live Scenes from New York (2000)
- Live at Budokan (2003)
- Score (2006)
- Chaos in Motion 20072008 (2008)
- Live at Luna Park (2013)
- Breaking the Fourth Wall (2014)
- Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) (2008)
- Liquid Tension Experiment (1998)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1999)
- Spontaneous Combustion (2007)
Music Apps and Technology:
- SampleWiz - a touch-screen based sampler.
- MorphWiz - a touch-screen based synthesizer that plays like a haken continuum.
- Geo Synthesizer - a musical instrument and MIDI controller
- Tachyon - a touch-screen based synthesizer with a number of set instruments that can be morphed and mixed together by moving your finger up and down the screen.
- HarmonyWiz - an advanced harmonic generator which can create multi-part harmonies from a single melodic line.
- Jordantron - a collection of samples of the sounds and patches used in his live shows with a playing interface.
- SpaceWiz - a music generator and visual app that lets you play a variety of synthesizers by flinging particles at planets.
- SketchWiz - a camera app that allows you to transform whatever it captures into a pen, pencil, chalk, or charcoal sketch.
- EarWizard - a music education app that teaches ear training through a Simon Says-like game.
- Explores - an app that allows you to explore the music of his solo piano album, All That Is Now, adding in various effects and background pads.
Jordan Rudess and his works provide examples of the following tropes:
- Badass Baritone: Has a noticeably deep voice.
- Badass Beard: Look at that thing. Look at it.
- Bald of Awesome: He's widely regarded as a musical genius, and also happens to be bald as a cueball.
- Catchphrase: The page quote.
- Child Prodigy: Enrolled in Juilliard at 9 and was performing Grieg's piano concertos by 14.
- Cool Old Guy
- Cover Album:
- The Road Home is a collection of covers of classic Progressive Rock tracks, plus one original ("Piece of the π").
- Notes on a Dream consists of his solo piano arrangements of nine Dream Theater songs plus three originals ("Perpetuum Mobile", "The Grand Escapement", "Collision Point"). To be fair, since he co-wrote many of them, they are arguably not covers, but tracks like "Another Day" and "Hollow Years", from before he joined, still count.
- The Unforgotten Path mostly features covers of tracks from various rock genres like Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" and "The Sound of Silence" and The Beatles' "Here, There, and Everywhere", as well as a few outliers (most notably, Stephen Sondheim's "Send In the Clowns" and Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"). Some of the tracks themselves are by Progressive Rock artists, such as Genesis' "Entangled" and Pink Floyd's "Grantchester Meadows". Most of them are from The '70s or earlier; Radiohead's "Karma Police" is the most recent piece covered on the collection. Four of the songs on the album are originals: "For Japan", "Old Man in the House", "Tribute to Jobs", and "Opus 58".
- Epic Rocking: Most of Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment's outputs fall under this. In his solo career, he has:
- Making Waves has "Making Waves" (11:02) and "Soft Landing" (20:56)
- Resonance has "Resonance" (9:55), "Timeline" (10:27), and "Flying" (10:15).
- An Evening With John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess has "Furia Taurina" (10:10), "Truth" (9:48), "Fife and Drum" (9:30), "Hang 11" (11:38), and "Black Ice" (10:54).
- Feeding the Wheel has "Quantum Soup" (11:03) and "Feed the Wheel" (10:12)
- Rhythm of Time has "Insectsamongus" (9:36) and "Beyond Tomorrow" (9:59).
- The Road Home has "Tarkus", which is even longer than Emerson, Lake & Palmer's original at 22:48. Rudess commented that it was this song that made him want to play rock keyboard in the first place. His version of Yes'' "Sound Chaser" here also bears mention at 12:54 (the original is around nine and a half minutes long). All of his covers on this album (apart from the medley) are longer than the original versions, due largely to the insertion of additional solos.
- Explorations has "Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra" (25:49), a three-movement piano concerto.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Beside employing some truly bizarre MIDI controllers, Rudess is known for his extensive use of iPads and iPhones in a musical context.
- Genre Roulette: A lot of his solo work can range from solo piano tracks to piano concertos to electronic music to jazz to world music to ambient to progressive rock to progressive metal.
- Genre Shift: "Interstices", despite being a four-minute solo piano track, moves through several genres, including solo piano, a classical waltz, classical, ragtime, jazz, and progressive rock.
- Grief Song: He has recorded multiple versions of a tribute to Steve Jobs, one using Apple technology and one as a solo piano arrangement. The latter of these appears on The Unforgotten Path. "For Japan" from the same album was written for the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He also performed a lengthy improvisation (over half an hour) which he dedicated to a hope for peace in the wake of the 2015 terrorist attack at Le Bataclan in Paris.
- Impractical Musical Instrument Skills: With the recent advent of his rotating, tilting keyboard stand, he frequently plays the keyboard in highly impractical positions.
- Instrumentals: Almost all of Liquid Tension Experiment and his solo output.
- Jewish and Nerdy: A Jewish-born, eccentric prog musician who obsesses over synth technology and music theory.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: See Genre Roulette above.
- Nice Guy: He is very polite and courteous, and will compliment covers of his works that he likes.
- Progressive Rock
- Spell My Name with an "S": For some reason, his cover of Pink Floyd's "Grantchester Meadows" from Ummagumma is titled "Grandchester Meadows".
- Technician vs. Performer: Unfairly maligned as the former by a substantial portion of his detractors and even fans; in reality, Rudess's non-solo parts are frequently very songwriting-oriented and his piano playing in particular tends to be strongly emotive.
- Uncommon Time
- Unplugged Version: Notes on a Dream is a collection of piano arrangements of Dream Theater songs.
- Word Salad Title: A lot of his solo stuff, which is not surprising given that most of it is instrumental.