Rudresh Mahanthappa: Apti & Real People
Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition
Anders Mogensen/Rudresh Mahanthappa/Kasper Tranberg/Jacob Anderskov/Carlo DeRosa
Over the past ten years alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa has succeeded where others have failed in fusing Indian musical traditions into modern jazz. His sinewy lines, while coursing along with the lissome grace of Indian improvisers, also reflect the harmonic edginess of players like Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean. These two discs are good demonstrations of the breadth and scope of his work.
The Indo-Pak Coalition is a trio with guitarist Rez Abbasi and tabla player Dan Weiss. They've been together for three years and Apti is their first release. "Looking Out Looking In" functions as an alap, the slow introductory movement in an Indian raga. Over Abbasi's drone, Mahanthappa weaves a serpentine line, toying with the pitch, giving it a microtonal flavor before segueing into the title track, a rigorous, hyperfast theme played in unison. While Abbasi has many solos, it's his comping behind Mahanthappa that really stands out. Rather than trying to emulate a sitar (with the exception of "You Talk Too Much"), he frequently provides a thick harmonic drone that gives the saxophone a number of improvising options, not merely the notes in the raga. Occasionally he and Mahanthappa engage in contrapuntal dialogues that are among the disc's high points. Weiss delivers a virtuosic performance, driving the music with energy as well as providing subtle counter-rhythms and coloration.
On a very different note, Mahanthappa is part of the quintet Danish drummer Anders Mogensen assembled for his release Real People. Mogensen has been a stalwart of the Danish jazz scene since the '90s and he chose an interesting selection of American and Danish musicians for this disc: bassist Carlo DeRosa, pianist Jacob Anderskov and trumpeter Kasper Tranberg. The tenor of this date might be described as "progressive Blue Note." All members contribute compositions and the program has a cohesive yet wide-ranging feel. Mahanthappa's tricky "D (Dee-Dee)" has a Wayne Shorter-ish melodic edge and flirts with rhythmically free intervals. Anderskov's "Real People People" takes the music into dense harmonic and staggered rhythmic territory. All ten tracks seem to adopt a strategy to keep the improvisers on their toes. And that's what makes this date such a success.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Looking Out; Looking In; Apti; Vandanaa Trayee; Adana; Palika Market; IIT; Baladhi; You Talk Too Much.
Personnel: Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Rez Abassi: guitars; Dan Weiss: tabla.
Tracks: Forotto; Circus; D (Dee-Dee); Get Real; Real People People; Further And In Between; Jimmy Heath; English; The Pleasure Of Being; Real Real People.
Personnel: Anders Mogensen: drums; Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto sax; Kasper Tranberg: trumpet; Jacob Anderskov: piano; Carlo DeRosa: bass.