Sangeeta Michael Berardi: The Mr. P Sessions
Times, for the guitarist, have changed. Parkinson's disease, the degenerative disorder of the central nervous system has taken his ability to play guitar at the "cosmic fingers" level he once employed. It is a stroke of cosmic cruelty, but Sangeeta is undeterred in his musical/spiritual quest. He offers up now The Mr. P Sessions, an attempt to incorporate the tremor/shakes/vibrations of Parkinson's Disease into his artistry.
This is a gloriously sprawling, 2 CD hodgepodge of sound that opens with Sangeeta, his voice rendered raspy from the disease, singing unaccompanied, "I'll Sing My Way," a thumb of the nose at Parkinson's that leads into the anthem, "Mr. P." Sangeeta's voice opens it, Kendra Shank and vocalist/violinist Rosi Hertlein sing back ground, and about two minutes in the band rises like a Phoenix. Hertlein's violin wails; Shank's vocalese surges up out of the ashes; Mitch Kessler sings deep truths on bass clarinet; pianist John Esposito pounds out out holy chords, and drummer Peter O'Brien and bassist Hilliard Greene lay down a wall of rhythmic apocalypse. All this a prelude to Sangeeta Micheal Berardi, sounding like a mad Prophet, moaning in on a wordless, wavering, Parkinsonian sermon.
Then there's the bowls. "Solar Wind" features Berardi on an array of Japanese and Tibetan Singing Bowls. Teamed with the inspired drum work of O'Brien, Berardi explores a world of ringing vibrations on these instrument where his Parkinson's tremors are incorporated into the artistry, beautifully.
The eighteen-plus minute "Prayer for Peace" opens with what sounds like a Gregorian Chant, the sound waves slightly warped from a trip through a semi-permeable membrane. Seven minutes in, the band opens up with an insistent rhythm behind Kessler on soprano, Hertein's violin, and Shank and Berardi duet near the closing with wordless ululations.
CD 2 is more of a bits and pieces affair, mostly short tunes with the Singing Bowls again, and Berardi's wavering moans, Shank's angelic vocalizations, Sageeta Michael Berardi poems read by Mikhail Horowitzincluding the hilarious and irreverent "Farts Are Holy"maracas (probably Berardi's multiple medicine bottles used as amber plastic shakers), Interstellar Frequencies I and II, pulled in, it seems, from deep space, and a wrap-up of the nine minute-plus "Remembering Coltrane II," featuring Berardi's still-eloquent work on acoustic guitar beside John Esposito's searching piano, joined by violin, flute and subtle electronics in a gorgeous, meandering prayer to to the iconic saxophonist.
The Mr. P Sessions is a triumphant offering from Sangeeta Michael Berardi.
Track Listing: CD 1:I'll Sing My Way; Mr. P; Solar Wind; Prayer for Peace; Feelin' Down and Lonely; Mr. P. Meets Mr. POB; Remembering John Coltrane II. CD 2: We Give Thanks; Imagine; In the Light of the Inner Sun; Witnessing Another Day; Talking in Saxophone Tongues; Farts Are Holy; Interstelar Frequencies I; Inside My Head; Interstellar Frequencies II; Bought Him Like a Pet; Call of the Cosmos; Chicago Nights I; Mr. P and Baby James at Play; Chicago Nights II; Remembering John Coltrane II.
Personnel: Sangeeta Michael Berardi: voice, acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Japanese and Tibetan Singing Bowls; Mikail Horowitz: Performing Sangreeta's poems; Rosi Hertlein: violin, voice; Kendra Shank: voice, electronic loops; Mitch Kessler: flute, soprano saxophone, alto and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet; John Esposito: piano, prepared piano, harmonica; Hilliard Greene: acoustic bass; James Greene: Japanese and tibetan Singing Bowls; Peter O'Brien: drums.
Record Label: Sunjump Records
Style: Fringes of Jazz