Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Arun Ghosh: A South Asian Suite

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Clarinetist/composer Arun Ghosh's first two albums catapulted him to the forefront of the UK jazz scene. The British-Asian's beguilingly eclectic influences from India, the Middle East and UK urban culture spawned music on Northern Namaste (Camoci Records, 2008) and Primal Odyssey (Camoci Records, 2011) that interwove haunting melodies, groove-driven ensemble play and ecstatic soloing. Ghosh won the approval of both mainstream jazz fans and World Music aficionados, becoming a regular performer at festivals, clubs and melas alike. Here, Ghosh returns with an Indo-Jazz suite inspired by the people, landscapes and music of Bangladesh India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Commissioned by the Manchester Mega Mela in 2010, Ghosh has performed the suite at arts and jazz festivals, temples and religious forums to boot.The core of the nine-piece group is the three-reed frontline of alto saxophonist Chris Williams, tenor saxophonist Idris Rahman—also on clarinet and flute—and Ghosh. The formula fired Primal Odyssey and was inspired by the ensemble set-up of Indian shenai master Ustad Bismillah Khan, who lifted the oboe-like shenai from being an instrument of folk gatherings to the concert hall.

There are tremendously stirring passages, particularly on the celebratory "The Gypsies of Rajasthan"—a nailed-on gig closer if ever there was one—and the aptly named "Sufi Stomp" with its unrelenting Qawwali pulse. However, for the most part A South Asian Suite is less rhythmically charged than Ghosh's previous works. Compositions like "After the Monsoon," "Pilgrimage to the Ganges" and "River Song" conjure instead a pastoral reverie of graceful lyricism. Other titles like "Mountain Song" and "Journey South" suggest unfolding panoramas strongly evoked in music that's cinematic in grandeur.

Pianist Zoe Rahman's influence on the suite as a whole is marked. Her jangling keys bring an elegiac, quasi nostalgic quality to the music—a device that Ghosh uses repeatedly throughout the suite. Rahman dances on the "Gypsies of Rajasthan," pounds out an urgent ostinato on "Sufi Stomp" and weaves a gently flowing course like a river on "Mountain Song." Nilesh Gulhane, Aref Durvesh and Rastko Rasic lend percussive shading throughout the suite: tabla—mostly subdued—adds to the cinematic momentum; tambourine drives the faster numbers; temple bells and Tibetan bowls provide whispering accents on "Mountain Song"; the double-headed dholak drum fires on "Sufi Stomp" and speaks gently on "River Song."

The thunderous bottom end of bass clarinet and electric bass of Primal Odyssey is replaced solely by Liran Donin 's acoustic bass, reflecting the lighter grooves and greater emphasis on the flowing melodic contours of A South Asian Suite. The heady, spiraling clarinet solos that are, a Ghosh trademark are released sparingly and perhaps, as a result to greater effect. Ghosh's most heartfelt playing is also his most economical, as on the brooding lament "Ode to the Martyrs." This segues into the urgent, vaguely psychedelic "Journey South," where Ghosh musters all the ensemble's energy in a seductive and powerful closing mantra.

A South Asian Suite is Ghosh's most mature and enduring work to date. Ghosh's imagination and emotional range are clearly well suited to long-form composition and it will be a major surprise—and a disappointment—if he doesn't return to this format in the future. A candidate for one of the best recordings of the year.

Track Listing: The Gypsies of Rajasthan; After the Monsoon; Pilgrimage to the Ganges; River Song; Arise Dancing Dervish!; Sufi Stomp (Soull of Sindh); Guatama’s Footsteps; Mountain Song; Ode to the Martyrs; Journey South.

Personnel: Arun Ghosh: clarinet; harmonium (1, 4, 6); Aref Durvesh: tabla (1, 4-5), dholak (1, 4-6, 10), tambourine (1), drums (3); Chris Williams: alto saxophone; Idris Rahman: tenor saxophone, clarinet (4), flute (10); Liran Donin: double bass; Nilesh Gulhane: tabla (2, 6, 8, 10); Pat Illingworth: drums (2, 6, 8, 10); Rastko Rasic: drums (1, 4-5, 9, 10); tambourine (6); bells and Tibetan bowls (8); Zoe Rahman: piano.

Title: A South Asian Suite | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Camoci Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019
Read Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You Album Reviews
Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
By Dan McClenaghan
May 24, 2019
Read Nexus Album Reviews
Nexus
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 23, 2019
Read The Second Coming Album Reviews
The Second Coming
By Daniel Barbiero
May 23, 2019
Read Luminária Album Reviews
Luminária
By John Sharpe
May 23, 2019