Rajesh Mehta was born in India, grew up in the United States, and lived in Holland. He aims to do - or help do - for the trumpet what Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and Evan Parker have done for the saxophone. He does it on Orka by eschewing the usual standards of trumpet virtuosity and fashioning a new language and lexicon for the instrument. He also takes up the long-forgotten bass trumpet, and plays a "hybrid trumpet" of his own fashioning that involves two (or more) trumpets are joined together by a tube. He's joined on nine of the twelve tracks by percussion master Paul Lovens, who has distinguished himself in a trio with pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and Parker.
Even when he is recognizably playing a trumpet, Mehta doesn't sound much like Brownie or Miles, although the call-and-response figure of "Orka," the meditative "Difftones," and the discursive "Orka Pook" are played with a pinched (muted?) tone reminiscent of the Prince of Darkness. "Tu-Vas" is a sustained, mictrotonally shifting growl; on "Leslie's Plumbing" he utters some percussive cries before settling into a sustained phrase of considerable eloquence. "Vindaloo" is more furious, with Mehta making considerable use of the percussive and other sonic possibilities of mouthpiece manipulation, producing a hiss that has been previously deployed by Joe McPhee on his trumpet and cornet excursions. (He does this on "Styro Gyro" as well.)
On "Partched" and "LampiGong" he manages to produce and sustain a flute-like whistle; "Rent-A-Bird" goes this one better, with the actual cadences and rhythms of birdcalls. "The Chase" is a reverberating figure, probably on bass trumpet, for Mehta sounds a bit like Roswell Rudd does on trombone. "Not Yet" is a fascinating trombonish call with a doubled effect, no doubt created by the tube.
Orka is an audacious, successful disc. There is a great deal of fascinating music here, and an inventive trumpeter of considerable promise.