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The new jazz CD Ardent Marigolds from saxophonist Jonathan Ragonese and pianist Steve Rudolph could be said to have been over ten years in the making. When Jonathan was a 13-year-old aspiring musician living in New Cumberland, his parents took him to a number of different venues to hear music. That included concerts presented by the Central PA Friends of Jazz. There for the first time he heard Steve Rudolph perform, who was already established as a leading jazz musician in the area.
Ragonese was impressed, and went on Rudolph’s website to learn more about him. He decided to email the pianist. Steve Rudolph chuckles, remembering the email he received from the teenager, “Mr. Rudolph, my name is Jonathan Ragonese and I’m ready to play with you now.”
Rudolph graciously invited the young saxophonist to jam with him, and a friendship began. Over the years, the two often played together at Rudolph’s longtime gig as pianist at the Hilton Harrisburg. In that setting, Ragonese was also introduced to a number of other acclaimed jazz musicians who came to play with Steve.
Jonathan Ragonese has now lived in New York City for six years, studying at the Manhattan School of Music where he recently received his Masters in Composition. Those who remember his jam sessions with Steve Rudolph at the Hilton encouraged the two to get together and document their musical chemistry in a recording.
The result is Ardent Marigolds, which features three original compositions by each musician, along with some tunes they played together often at the Hilton, and the title track which they wrote together.
Producer Jeff Lynch is one of those who was instrumental in persuading the two to make the album. For the sessions, recorded live before audiences at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center, he brought in grammy-winning recording engineer Jon Rosenberg, who has recorded such artists as Wynton Marsalis Anthony Braxton and Pat Metheny. The project was underwritten by Lois Lehrman Grass. The album is available at Steve Rudolph's website as well as other online sources.
Below you can hear our interview with Steve and Jonathan with some samples from the recording.
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