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Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: Apti (2008)

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Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: Apti How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Jazz has been a well-established genre in India since the 1940s. American talent played top venues in large cities like Bombay in the '50s, and the cultures interrelated within India's natural jazz evolution from its early stages. Traditional Indian music uses single notes rather than the intricate chords typical in western jazz, so when saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa combines those inspirations the result is absorbing. Despite overtly displaying an Indian influence throughout Apti, Mahanthappa doesn't approach his music like some new world antagonist but more as an intermediary between the genres.

Mahanthappa keeps most traditional jazz sounds on the periphery on the title track. The effect is almost at a subconscious level, as the Indian influences control the main theme while there is an ongoing lure to search outside that box for more familiar ground. It is just the right mix to make the sound more clearly ethnic without throwing out the jazz element. "Vandanaa Trayee" features a sitar-like guitar method from Rez Abbasi

Rez Abbasi
Rez Abbasi

guitar
, accompanied by Mahanthappa's somewhat longer lines, providing a serene staging for Abbasi's acoustic solo.

"IIT" is one of the more interesting tracks as it opens in a solidly rooted post-bop approach, and yet controlled—like all the tracks on Apti— by an ethnic sensibility. In this case, the sound has more of a general Middle Eastern feel as Dan Weiss

Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss

drums
's tablas set the pace and feel. "IIT" has a strong resemblance to some of Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
b.1947
sax, tenor
's earlier collaborations with Ustad Shaukat Hussain, but here the music is more melodic.

Mahanthappa has previously been best identified as the saxophonist in Vijay Iyer

Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
b.1971
piano
's progressive and groundbreaking trio. One of the most recognized jazz musicians of Indian descent (Mahanthappa is a Boulder, Colorado native), it was clear early on that his creative and unique style fated him as a leader. His melding of musical cultures has been an on and off experiment until his move to New York in 1997. He has been quoted as having early trepidations regarding the ability and logic of working traditional Indian drones, jazz harmonies and primal instruments such as tabla, into a jazz format. This concern existed, despite earlier works of John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
and Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
. However, having accumulated experience, expertise and self-assurance, Mahanthappa has set about composing and producing a work based on an understanding of western jazz and Indian conventions to produce an unusually inventive collection.

Track Listing: Looking out, Looking In; Apti; Vandanaa Trayee; Adana; Palika Market; Iit; Baladhi; You Talk Too Much.

Personnel: Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto Saxophone; Rez Abbasi: guitar; Dan Weiss: tabla.

Record Label: Innova Recordings

Style: Modern Jazz


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