Red Baraat: Chaal Baby (2010)
Percussionist Sunny Jain has already impressed as a musician who weaves disparate musical worlds into new universes. Chaal Baby, from his Red Baraat band, produces incredibly infectious celebratory dance music using Punjabi bhangra rhythms, funk and Jain's skills on the dhol, a double-sided North Indian drum. The result is a brassy percussive party that doesn't stop rocking until the final cut is over.
The brass band milieu has given rise to various ethnic/jazz combinations that lean heavily on percussion and tuba as their power source. Red Baraat definitely has that same "dare you to sit still" feel as, say, Serbian trumpeter Boban Markovic's Orkestar or trumpeter Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars. This is thanks to an uninhibited rhythm section that, besides Jain, also includes percussionist Rohin Khemani, drummer Tomas Fujiwara and sousaphonist John Altieri.
That said, there is a very contemporary popular feel to these selections, which include originals, traditionals, Indian pop and Bollywood tunes. Take for example the reworking of Malkit Singh's popular "Hey Jamalo Tootak Tootak Tootiyan" that ratchets the rhythm up and provides a blowfest forum for trombonist Dave Smith. Bhangra pop singer Daler Mehndi's "Tunak Tunak Tun" is similarly jazzed up, a chance for Smith and Arun Luthra (soprano sax) to wail. Originals like the title cut (that wouldn't be out of place at a Punjabi football halftime show), "Drum and Brass," cleverly striking common ground between Eastern Europe and Western Asia and "Baraat to Nowhere," with its hot brass voicings, are possible indications of where Jain may be going musically with this group. But ultimately, this is music to shake any and all body parts to and if you don't, check your pulse.
Track Listing: Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle); Tunak Tunak Tun; Chaal Baby; Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna; Drum 'n' Brass; Arcana; Hey Jamalo; Dum Maro Dum; Baraat To Nowhere; Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai; Samaro Mantra.
Personnel: Sunny Jain: dhol,drumset, percussion; Rohin Kheman: tavil, doumbek; Tomas Fujiwara: drumset; Arun Luthra: soprano sax; Mike Bomwell: baritone sax; Sonny Singh: trumpet; MiWi La Lupa: bass trumpet; Dave Smith: trombone; John Altieri: sousaphone.
Record Label: Sinj Records