Future Fusions: Hear and Now
"Changes deftly dances in fluid rhythm while the horns navigate a 32-bar ensemble riff that leads into, then out of, even more extensive solos from Jones on trumpet and Shenoy on saxophone. Lamdin's oddly angular and blue repeated guitar figure (think James "Blood Ulmer) constructs a harmonically- and rhythmically-free playground in "Green Blades of Grass for trumpet and saxophone to scamper through.
Similarly, "You and Me gestates from a minor, four-note piano riff into a full-scale interstellar expedition fueled by off-center, Sun Ra-esque wobbly psychedelic blues horns. In "After Ararat, the be-boppish horn chart explodes from the midst of Russell Knight's thick and gnarly bed of African percussion. "The Hunger also shows off a ten-piece horn chart atop a liquid bass, piano and percussion flow.
"Freedom might even be Lamdin's celebration piece about the potential of his exciting hybrid: Genuine jazz-hop where the horn section rips off torrid sheets of blues and bop while the rhythm section thumps and wriggles into a world of deep, mercurial funk.
He also tosses off his own non-jazz curveball with a cover of White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army, stripped down to bass, drums and rhythm guitar, then set ablaze by Alice Russell's incendiary vocal.
"Coming from producing hip-hop style beats, I'd always heard snippets of jazz tracks I loved, Lamdin reflects upon this Garden. "This LP was a way of doing some jazz tracks which did what I wanted from start to finish.
It's not just musicians operating in Paris and the UK who are expanding musical horizons.
Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj first came to international prominence through their work with Bill Laswell, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale and Ustad Sultan Khan in the collective Tabla Beat Science. As MIDIval Punditz, the duo is widely regarded as the first South Asian band to fully synthesize modern Western electronic music with regional traditional and classical music, to create a new sound for 21st-century India. "What we're trying to do is to stretch Western audiences towards Indian sounds, says Raina, "and to stretch Indian audiences towards modern, electronic, Western music.
Their electronic beats, cast in these MIDIval Times, dance with some of the most honored names in traditional and modern Indian music, including Anoushka Shankar, daughter and protégé of the legendary Ravi Shankar, and master of the sarangi Khan and percussionist / beatmaster / producer Kale, returning adventurers from Tabla Beat Science. So although the production sparkles with the sheen of an electronica or techno set, MIDIval Times still sounds and feels like Indian music.
There's no mistaking the Indian roots, for example, that give "Saathi life, soaring in its unmistakable ancient sound from Khan's plaintive vocal and stringed sarangi, plucking an airy melody in which every note feels profoundly meaningful, cushioned in soft, fluttering trip-hop, a heady and tasteful synthesis of India ancient and modern. The very title of "Rebirth seems to celebrate its fusion of electronic keyboards and beats with flute which tenderly introduces Shankar's sitar solo, full of energy and reverence, joyously spiritual, advancing the traditional sound of Indian sitar into the new millennium.
In "Khayaal, Indian vocals from Vishal Vaid serve as a center jewel cast in the colorful blinking neon of the modern electronic trance style. "Piya similarly twirls together flute, tabla, sitar and female vocals into its kaleidoscopic electronic palette, somehow sounding both very traditional AND modern. So does the set-ending "Hold On.
On the other hand, "Enemy delivers totally different music: a crunching backbeat of brittle and jagged, metallic techno bass and drum, through which Gaulam Cheema's lead electric guitar screams like a shrieking nightmare. When Cheema's guitar kicks into overdrive, this piece totally and thoroughly rocks.
Mayonnaise does not really fit in with the other titles in this column. Which is okay, because it wouldn't fit in with the titles in just about any other column, either.
Hailing from Boston, Hypnotic Clambake brings together Maury Rosenberg (accordion, piano, keyboards, percussion, vocals) and Chris Reynolds (bass, guitar, drums, percussion, samples, vocals) with bassist Jim Schwarz and hornman Tim Hull (tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, vocals). This set of thirteen new songs also features guest trombonist Rick McRae of They Might Be Giants, drummer Mark Phillips, and vocalists Sarah Long and Toni Phillips, Sr.
Frequent appearances by accordion and clarinet give some songs an Eastern European tinge. But other songs sound rooted in funky New Orleans funhouse rhythm and blues. There probably aren't too many Eastern Europe New Orleans R&B records in anybody's collection...