Andy Peterson Independent: Anusha (2011)
Peterson has provided his deep groove and fine chops for high-caliber artists such as drummer Billy Cobham, guitarist ODonel Levy, flautist John Kaizan Neptune, singers Randy Crawford and Robert Palmer, and Korean jazz sensation Youn Sun Nah, to name but a few. So perhaps a solo album was overdue. The cultural melting pot that is Malaysia has also influenced Peterson to a large degree, and the rhythms and sounds of India infuse the music on these six tracks just as much as jazz-fusion. Whatever the influences, the playing has plenty of fire.
Saxophonist Greg Lyons' spiraling soprano run, shadowed by Peterson's thundering bass, Udapa's ghatam and Kiran's khanjira provide a powerful intro to "Nasty Rusty." Kumaresh's violin cuts through the heady percussion with a weaving run, which varies nicely in tempo. Edvard Lee's keyboard solo rushes in with breathless momentum reminiscent of fusion's 70s heyday, and M D Palavi's beautifully light vocal floats above everything. A thrilling unison section between bass, sax, violin, and percussion follows, which would give John McLaughlin's Shakti a run for its money. It's a mighty impressive opener.
The keen melodic vein in Peterson's playing presents itself on "Tribute," which steers a course between the two poles of fast-paced fusiondriven by John T's drumsand languid, lyrical passages. Indian percussion and violin are ever-present, though they play more of a supporting role than on the incendiary opener. Aubrey's boppish piano solo leads into a crying violin passage, before the band returns to the head and Peterson's delightful melody. Violin and bass combine in unison as the drums tear free, building to a sudden climax. "Tea" is an absorbing mixture of churning, funk-flavored fusion and konnakol, featuring a fine, accordion-toned keyboard solo from Justin Lim.
Pallavi's ethereal vocals illuminate the classical Indian opening to the melodic "Dreams and Reality," a slower, Weather Report-influenced number which shows Peterson's fine fretless playing in its most lyrical light. Eddie Wen's muted trumpet brings additional color to "Spike," a powerful composition that balances driving percussion and konnakol with shimmering keys and a dreamy melody. Peterson switches tempo effortlessly again on the title track, a busy number featuring two violins and which is both celebratory in tone and a rousing set closer.
Anusha is a truly fine debut recording which boldly states the case for Peterson as a top-notch bassist and, more significantly, presents to the world a composer of breadth and imagination. Recommended.
Track Listing: Nasty Rusty; Tribute; Tea; Dreams & Reality; Spike; Anusha.
Personnel: Andy Peterson: bass (1-6), vocals (2-3, 6), percussion (2-3, 6); Kumaresh: violin (1-3, 6); Udupa: ghatam (1-2, 4, 6), khamjira (1, 3), mridangam (6), vocal; (5); Kiran: khanjira (1, 3), dholak (2); M D Pallavi: vocals (1, 4); Edvard Lee: keyboards (1, 4-5); Greg Lyons: soprano saxophone (1); Eddie Wen: trumpet (5); Elvira: vocals (2); Justin Lim: Rhodes (2), keyboards (3, 6); Aubrey: keyboards and piano (2); John T: drums (2-3, 5); Albert Sri: percussion and vocals (3, 6); Steve T: percussion (4-5); Genevie Kam: violin (6).
Record Label: Self Produced