Garaj Mahal: Live, Vols. 1-3 (2003)
The first four tracks on Volume 1 feature tabla legend Zakir Hussain, collaborator in the Dig a Rhythm Band, Planet Drum, and Shakti, in whose company Haque's 12-string fretless guitar dances like a jubilant sitar. "Semos" more fully spotlights Hussain, while "Gulam Sabri" showcases Levy, who explodes through a Chick Corea-style electric fusion workout as if shot from a cannon, followed in kind by Haque on electric guitar. Hertz's "Celtic Indian," where the sitar and tabla tones twine a jig, delivers a nice pan-global fusion touch.
Volume 2 lets its Frank Zappa freak flag fly with mercurial, constantly shifting song structures and naughty if not wicked content: Sexual innuendos ("Ride the shaft," for example, in "Cosmic Elevator"), odes to dog meat ("Poodle Vamp"), and a
scrambled cover of Pee Wee Ellis' "The Chicken," all crowned by a contemplative solo guitar rendition of the US "National Anthem."
Newly victorious 2002 -03 US National Hammered Dulcimer Champion Jamie Janover guests on 'Stoked on Razaki' on Volume 3, which also prances through Levy's Prince-like "Thursday," the jazz-rocking "Never Give Up," and closes with an eighteen-minute instrumental spacewalk through "Material Girl." Yes, THAT "Material Girl"!
See From The Inside Out for related reviews.
Personnel: Eric Levy (keyboards), Alan Hertz (drums), Kai Eckhardt (bass), Fareed Haque (guitar) with Zakir Hussain (tablas), Jamie Janover (hammer dulcimer).
Record Label: Harmonized Records
Style: Jam Band