Ghorar Deem Express: Ghorar Deem Express (2005)
The expression "ghorar deem" is Bengali. It means "the horse's egg," and it's used to convey a sense of the absurd, which is, in essence, the heartbeat of this collaboration between some Dutch and American musicians. The CD contains elements of funk, jazz, rock, and rap, and it's something different, even new, driven by manic tempos and sporting frantic rapping (sometimes in Bengali) that sits side-by-side with complex thematic expositions, lean and mean backbeats, boppish saxophone improvisations, and thick ensemble dissonance. Something different? Absolutely.
Humor plays a prominent role for the Ghorar Deem Express. The most obvious example seems to be "Hey William Tell," and yes, it's that oh-so-famous overture. But this time, it's revamped as a funk tune with a vocal. I'm pretty sure it's intended to be funny (one can't always tell how much of this CD is meant to be taken seriously), and as an exercise in comic jazz-rock, it succeeds admirably.
Actually,I suspect much of Ghorar Deem Express is intended to be at least partly comic, which creates an aesthetic dilemma, at least for me. For one thing, the rapping of vocalist Nader Sobhan is often spewed out in what sounds to me like a mock, comic rant. For another thing, most of the raps are delivered over fast rock or funk beats, which, to my ears, enhances their comic effect. It becomes tempting to dismiss the entire CD as a put-on, a random slapping together of disparate musical genres. And worse yet, there's an accordion and a song about soy sauce.
But then there's also a series of fine saxophone improvisations, clearly jazz, rooted in bebop but incorporating more modern elements. Baritone saxophonist Jay McMahon shines throughout, and his solo on "Mucoid Plaque" is a lyrical gem contravening the rather unusual title. The saxophone section work shines. Those looking for jazz elements will also be attracted to some cooking Latin grooves that pop up here and there as a contrast to the predominant backbeats. The music also incorporates odd time signatures (11/4 shows up at least once), guitar distortion, and electronica.
Simply put, beboppers and jazz purists shouldn't go anywhere near Ghorar Deem Express. But those with a taste for adventurous, experimental music might find considerable value here.
Track Listing: Schonel Schnerb; Mucoid Plaque; Trampass; The Vachists; Hey William Tell; Gorar Deem Theme; Sol Pyre; Sanding Moves; Kikkoman.
Personnel: Lars Dietrich: alto sax; Natalio Sued: tenor sax; Jay McMahon: baritone sax; Nikolai Onken: guitar; Rachel Koppelman: accordion; Andrew Bergmann: bass; Klaas Van Donkersgoed: drums; Steve Mitchell: percussion; Nader Sobhan: vocals. Tyler Wood: organ, wurlitzer (4-7).