John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess - An Evening With
Favored Nations
Instrumental Rock/Classical/Jazz Fusion
10 songs (68'31)
Release year: 2004
Favored Nations
Reviewed by Marty
With the physical demands of touring, most musicians find solace in something that gets them away from their instruments. For Dream Theater's John Petrucci (guitar) and Jordan Rudess (keyboards), free time on tour gave them the opportunity to write music together as an instrumental duet using just guitar and keyboards. Nothing was really ever finished but they decided to perform it anyway with little rehearsal in front of a live audience. Originally recorded in 2000 at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, NY, USA, this disc wasn't readily available until it was recently picked up by Steve Vai's label, Favored Nations.

The talent and classical training of these two musicians is very evident throughout this recording and we are treated to a barrage of guitar and piano melodies that actually come together in spots to produce some nice melodic segments but for the most part, soloing and a more "free form" jazz style dominate. Lots of "noodling" and "wankery" as many would like to call it are aplenty here but the tightness, syncopation and execution of delivery is breathtaking.....these guys are masters of their craft. John blends in some great expressive and explosive electric lead guitar in spots but for the most part, he plays classical and/or acoustic guitar. The one exception is the track In The Moment which is quite simply an explosion of lead guitar playing with piano accompaniment. The track Truth manages to create some wonderful melodies with piano and acoustic guitar and even plays over a recurring theme. This track builds in intensity with some ripping lead guitar at the end. State Of Grace, originally written for the Liquid Tension Experiment, is another excellent track with beautiful guitar and piano melodies and it also builds in intensity and emotion. Some keyboard orchestrations are used here as well to add a nice dramatic effect. From Within, written by Jordan Rudess, has everything from a flamenco style intro to an ultra-proggy and dreamy Pink Floyd vibe all the while managing to create some great melodies. What can be created by the blending of the melodic sense of both the guitar and piano is perfectly demonstrated here. John Petrucci's The Rena Song, written for his wife, has a very personal feel with the clean but with lots of chorus and echo, Steve Rothery (Marillion) style guitar sound. The melodies are rich and it's a very good moody and atmospheric piece.

The amazing syncopation of these two musicians with the guitar and piano and the sometimes odd time signatures really brings one back to the classic Genesis era when Steve Hackett and Tony Banks amazed us with their antics on albums like Selling England By The Pound. While the sheer volume of soloing may be a bit much for some, they do manage to create some great melodies. A few tracks would be better if they were a bit shorter as extended soloing gets a bit excessive and unnecessary but hey, it takes up time! This album is really for fans of instrumental rock/jazz fusion music with classical music themes. Fans of Dream Theater may like this album but only if you appreciate the performances, the talent and dexterity of these two very gifted musicians. If you don't care for excessive "noodling" or "wankery", avoid this album like the plague. An interesting showcase to present these two musicians in a different light and the people who witnessed this seemed to enjoy it. It probably was a one shot deal and a once in a lifetime chance to hear these two play away from the trappings of Dream Theater. It's music for the sheer enjoyment of doing it and for the personal satisfaction that goes along with it.

Killing Songs :
Truth, State Of Grace and From Within
Marty quoted 70 / 100
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