As a solo artist, Prasanna (Raga Metal Conversations, Raga Bop Trio) doesn't record that often, but when he does, it's usually an impressive musical statement, incited by his ferocious licks and unique convergence of Indian Carnatic music with a Western muse. For example, check out his previous outing, which is an East-West tribute to Jimi Hendrix Electric Ganesha Land (2006). With an all-star lineup featuring trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Vijay Iyer, alto saxophonists, David Binney and Rudresh Mahanthappa performing on select tracks, Prasanna's lucid alliance of disparate modalities elevate matters into a very special musical space.
Prasanna jumpstarts the program with a blistering bop vamp "Springtime in New York," brimming with intensity and speed, where acclaimed bassist Mike Pope matches the guitarist note for note when executing unison lines amid his fluid solo spot. The musicians segue into a contemporary jazz fusion outlook on "Song for the Wind," highlighted by vocalist Shalini Lakshmi's tuneful, wordless vocals. Nonetheless, the guitarist casts a diverse elixir throughout, as he merges various genres into the mix along with his often mind-numbing technique, sizzling cadenzas and trickling inflections that sound as though he's plucking a sitar.
"Pinch Pennies in Monaco" is launched by Prasanna's funk voicings that mirror a classic James Brown style groove, amped by Mahanthappa's whirling-dervish sax parts. Yet they toggle the flows with a celestial vocal interlude and the leader's wah-wah pedal and distortion-laced breakout. Prasanna closes out the gala with a dub piece "The Keyword is Love," that starts with a tone poem like statement by Douglas, followed by ballsy choruses and Binney's genial and soulful notes. However, the guitarist tosses a curveball into the festivities with his jazz blues acoustic guitar stylizations, tweaked with more of his Carnatic modulations. Other than the artist's cunning merger of Western song-forms and genres into the Eastern component, he could surely be counted among the reigning guitar gods, spanning a global reach.
Springtime in New York; Song for the Wind; Nap of the Earth; Pinch Pennies in
Monaco; 31; Final Approach; Electron Dance; The Keyword is Love.
Prasanna: electric and acoustic guitar; Shalini Lakshmi: vocals (2,5,9); Natalie
John: vocals (8); Dave Douglas: trumpet (2,9); Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto
saxophone (5,6,7); David Binney: alto saxophone (2,9); Vijay Iyer: piano (4,6);
Mike Pope: electric bass (1,8), acoustic bass (4,6); Bill Urmson: electric bass
(2,5,7,9); Rodney Holmes: drums (1,4,6,8); Mauricio Zottarelli: drums (2,5,7,9);
Rodney Holmes: drums (1,4,6,8).