Rudesh’s previous credits include working with hip-hop jazz expeimentalist Mike Ladd and Vijay Iyer on the album award winning In What Language? and he is regularly listed in the “Rising Star” poll in Down Beat magazine’s annual who’s who in jazz.
Kinsmen is his collaboration with Kadri Gopalnath (who is a well known saxophonist in Indian classical music) and The Dakshina Ensemble.
For all that, on first hearing, the thing you get with this album is how ‘jazz’ it is. Whilst you don’t want it to be an update of the ground-breaking John Mayer/Joe Harriott Indo Jazz Suite (his aim was to “harmoniously synthesize” the cultural and musical divide), perhaps he and the band we’re a little too succesfull with this; in particular ‘Longing’.
That said, ‘Snake!’ is pure class on musical visualisation of “multicultural, transnational collaboration” with Mahavishnu Orchestra overtones as in addition to the sax leads all the band are hot as madras; Avasarala Kanyakumari (violin), Rez Abassi (guitar), Poovalur Sriji (mridangam), Carlo de Rosa (bass), Royal Hartigan (drums).
Mahanthappa attended Berklee college and toured India with the Berklee College of Music All-Stars but it wasn’t until his elder brother gave him a CD called Saxophone Indian Style by Golpalnath that he saw the potential of merging the music of his heritage and jazz (he grew up in Boulder, Colorado to Indian immigrant parents). He started work on Kinsmen with Kadir in 2005 in Madras and the piece received a world premiere in New York City at the Asia Society.
The ragas and rhythmic cycles are his starting point and then the sax melodies link them to the jazz world; ‘Kalyani’ probably is the best example of this (you can hear the ‘roots’ of Albert Ayler in there somewhere). And talking of which, ‘Kadri-Alap’ is a beautiful sax solo that’s worth repeated listens.
Indeed, the whole album is a bit of a grower as your ears get use to this style. Perhaps it’s just the shock of Indian music that doesn’t involve a sitar. Perhaps it’s just a long warm-up for the title track, a massive 15 minute opus that is the climax. Expect this album to be an award winner this year.
Check out the interview with Rudresh on http://www.wnyc.org
Reviewed: Rudresh Mahanthappa featuring Kadri Gopalnath & The Dakshina Ensemble – Kinsmen (Pi Recordings) Cat. No: PI28 Release date: September 2008
1 Introspection (2:16)
2 Ganesha (10:50)
3 Rez-Alap (1:42)
4 Longing (11:21)
5 Snake! (6:22)
6 Carlo-Alap (1:43)
7 Kalyani (12:50)
8 Kadri-Alap (4:08)
9 Kanya-Alap (2:37)
10 Convergence (Kinsmen) (15:28)
Indo-Jazzwise – Celebrating the New Wave of Indo-Jazz at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, London May 30-31 2008
Jazzwise magazine and Serious present Indo-Jazzwise, a special two night season at London’s Pizza Express Jazz Club that celebrates the new wave of Indo-jazz emerging on the UK scene. Inspired by past and present connections between Indian music and jazz, Indo-Jazzwise coincides with Ravi Shankar’s farewell concerts at the Barbican that will see Indian music enjoy a high profile in the UK.
Friday 30 May features a special collaboration between one of the UK’s leading saxophonists, Andy Sheppard, and tabla master, Kuljit Bhamra, who bring together a heady combination of East-West lyricism and atmospheric tabla trickery in an evocative musical dialogue. They are supported by guitarist Stephano D’Silva, son of 1960s cult Indo-jazz guitarist Amancio D’Silva, whose band will perform a selection of his father’s music alongside new material.
Saturday 31 May is a special double bill of Indo-jazz newcomers, The Teak Project and Arun Ghosh’s Indo-Jazz Sextet. The Teak Project, which comprises sitarist Jonathan Mayer – son of Indo-Jazz Fusions pioneer John Mayer – guitarist Justin Quinn and tabla player Neil Craig, have just released their remarkable debut album, an exhilarating blend of acoustic improvisation and Indian classical traditions. Clarinettist Arun Ghosh, who recently relocated from Manchester to London, has also just released a superb debut album Northern Namaste that combines South Asian music, contemporary jazz attitude and driving urban beats. His sextet will feature saxophonist Idris Rahman, pianist Kishon Khan, bassist Liran Donin, drummer Myke Wilson and Nilesh Gulhane on tabla.