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Ranjit Barot: Bada Boom

Ian Patterson By

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It's a Big Bang alright—bada in Hindi means big—a project of some ambition which unites the finest Indian musicians with some of the best from the jazz and fusion worlds. Together, they conspire to articulate Indian drummer Ranjit Barot's primal scream as a composer, and it's a spectacular and beautiful explosion. Barot spent his first twelve years in England, and this duality makes for a powerful musical cocktail, whereby diverse rhythmic, melodic and harmonic elements coexist as naturally as the planets orbit in around each other—different worlds yet inextricably linked.

Much of Barot's inspiration comes from the groundbreaking music of guitarist John McLaughlin and tablaist Zakir Hussain,both of whom lend their forces on Bada Boom. McLaughlin unfurls a characteristic solo on "Singularity," and whilst not his most memorable solo, it nevertheless inspires Barot to produce some wonderfully agile, imaginative stick work. Hussain positively charges "Supernova"—dedicated to his father, the legendary tablaist Alla Rakkha Khan—featuring fired-up electric mandolinist U.Srinivas and tenor saxophonist Tim Garland in expansive mood. Hussain's sparkling solo is buoyed by strings, and Barot's deft accents and thrilling, yet unobtrusive explosions.

Stellar individual performances abound: U. Rajesh's breathless electric mandolin and guitarist Marc Guillermont's soaring, lyrical solo on "T=0"; fourteen-year-old bassist Mohindi Day on "Dark Matter"; and pianist Harmeet Manseta's considerable presence throughout. What is most striking about Bada Boom, however, is its compositional strength and depth—Barot's writes compelling narratives, with plenty of surprises along the way.

That Barot collaborates with five co-arrangers on four numbers attests to their near orchestral ambition. Strings underpin several compositions, notably on the epic "T=0," a pulsating interpretation of a traditional Indian folk song which goes from tender and lyrical to passages of heady drama. On "Supernova," strings provide shadowy depth to a majestic piece which succeeds in fusing all of Barot's influences to wonderful effect. Garland's Underground Orchestra horn section adds muscularity to the impressive "Dark Matter."

Surprisingly perhaps, tabla hardly features, Hussains' vital performance apart, though ecstatic layers of percussion from Taufique Qureshi and Sridhar Parthasarthy inject adrenalin into "Revolution," a heartfelt tribute to Barot's mentor, saxophonist Charlie Mariano. Barot's drumming is busy enough not to need much percussive embellishment, and he steers a line somewhere between the effusive energy of Billy Cobham and the greater finesse of Jack DeJohnette, both major influences.

The infectious, dance-floor energy of the closing "Origin" lends the song an obvious commercial appeal. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine crowds partying wildly from Mombai to London, to this tremendously grooving song powered by Barot's impressive vocals and fine work from keyboardist Scott Kinsey and guitarist Wayne Krantz. Barot sings on four of the six tracks, and whether singing konnakol, more reflective, almost romantic lines or belting it out, his singing brings much color and variation in texture to his compositions.

If Bada Boom is anything to go by, more big noises can be expected from Barot in the future.

Track Listing: Singularity; T = 0; Revolutions (In memory of Charlie Mariano); Supernova (in memory of "Abbaji" Ustad Allarakha); Dark Matter; Origin.

Personnel: Ranjit Barot: drums, vocals (1, 2, 4), konnakol (1, 5), keyboard programming (1, 2), keyboards (3, 6), lead vocals (6); John McLaughlin: guitar (1); Matthew Garrison: bass (1); Mattias IA Eklundh: guitar (1); Palakkad Sreeram: VL1 physical modeling synthesizer (1, 2), flute (2), vocals (5); Harmeet Manseta: keyboards (1-3), piano solo (1), piano (4), electric piano (5); Sanjay Divecha: guitar (1), acoustic guitars (3); Punya Srinivas: veena (1); The Nirvana String Section (1, 2, 4); Tim Garland: soprano saxophone (2), tenor saxophone (4), saxophones (5), flute (5); Dominique Di Piazza: bass (2); U. Rajesh: electric mandolin (2); Marc Guillermont: guitar (2); Amit Heri: acoustic guitar (2); Pete Lockett: percussion (2); Aydin Essen: keyboards (3); Sridhar Parthasarthy: Indian percussion (3), djembe (3), percussion arrangement (3), percussion (6); Taufique Qureshi: djembe (3), percussion (3, 4), vocal textures (4); Suzanne D'mello: lead vocals (3), backing vocals (3); Samantha Edwards: backing vocals (3); Thomson Andrews: backing vocals (3); Leon DeSouza: backing vocals (3); Thiru Moorthy: nadaswaram (3); Zakir Hussain; table (4); U Srinivas: electric mandolin (4); Elie Afif: upright bass (4); Chandana Bala: vocal solo (4); Paras Nath: flute (4); Gwilym Simcock: piano (5); Mohini Dey: bass (5); Dhruv Ghanekar: guitar (5); Tim Garland's Underground Orchestra Horn Section (5); Scott Kinsey: keyboards (6); Wayne Krantz: guitar (6); Nicolas Fiszman: bass (6); Kirti Sagathia: vocals (6); Neuman Pinto: backing vocals (6); Bianca Gomes: backing vocals (6).

Title: Bada Boom | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

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