Pegging Some Heartstrings: The Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet in New Haven
Drummer Weiss accepted the challenge to differentiate the quartet's stunningly varied sonic surfaces. He clicked the metal edge of the snare sporadically to restore the band's rhythmic gait and constructed tight snare and hi-hat combinations that clipped right along with the bass. At times his bass drum and the bass strings collided but more often than not succeeded in doubling-up the depth of tone. Cymbal hisses and crashes characterized Weiss' heady responses to the musical cues provided by alto and piano. Frequently, the drums broke through the wall of sound the band had constructed to mark new territory in which the music could travel.
The abstract nature of this music kept it in a realm where the expression of "soul proved elusive even though a large part of the music was heartfelt improvisation. Perhaps the body language of a couple of the musicians could be used as a means to measure the emotion in this music. Watching the perspiration from Moutin's forehead bathing the bass almost pinpointed the thorough intensity of his groove. To see Mahanthappa, with bent knees, pound arpeggios into the ground was to experience music that was getting down and dirty. At the conclusion of the last set, Mahanthappa said, "We'd love to play more for you, but there is no more music, obviously meaning that there was no more sheet music to which the musicians could refer. Was he being serious or amusing? Was the sheet music necessary to invoke what we had just heard? What was really talking...his head or his soul? The look on his face told us he knew. He just wasn't going to say.