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Composer/hand percussionist Adam Rudolph was born in Chicago in 1955, and as a teen was mentored by the likes of Don Cherry, Fred Anderson, and Maulawi Nururdin. After receiving a self-designed undergraduate degree in ethnomusicology from Oberlin College, Rudolph went on to earn his M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts; in 1977 he traveled to Ghana and met the famed griot Foday Musa Suso, and a year later they reunited in Chicago to form the Mandingo Griot Society, pioneering a fusion of traditional African music with jazz and R&B. Rudolph additionally spent 15 years studying North Indian tabla drums under the renowned Pandit Taranath Rao, also regularly collaborating with L. Shankar and Hassan Hakmoun. His extensive research throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa allowed Rudolph to master a vast range of percussion instruments, including the congas, djembe, bendir, dumbek, tabla, talking drum, kalimba, and udu; in addition to appearing on sessions by everyone from Herbie Hancock to Jon Hassell to Shadowfax, he collaborated extensively with Yusef Lateef from 1988 onward.
Rudolph debuted his own group, Moving Pictures, with a self-titled 1992 LP; in 1995, he premiered his first opera, The Dreamer. In the early part of the 21st century, Rudolph became a founding member of Build an Ark in Los Angeles, a multigenerational group of musicians including Carlos Niño, Dwight Trible, Phil Ranelin, and a dozen others. They issued two fine albums, 2004's Peace with Every Step and 2007's Dawn. Rudolph also collaborated with Leni Stern on her 2007 effort Africa. Dream Garden followed in 2008. In 2010, Rudolph issued two more recordings on Meta: Yèyí with reed master and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Jones and Towards the Unknown with composer and multi-instrumentalist Lateef — although on the latter disc Lateef received top billing.