299

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Black Water

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Officially, Black Water is the second album by alto saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa.

( The Preserver, a blazing follow-up to 1997's Yatra, remains in the can.) Commissioned by the American Composers Forum, this powerful suite deals in part with the difficulty of immigration, not only for those who make the journey but also their progeny - people like Mahanthappa and pianist Vijay Iyer, both first-generation Indian-Americans. The two have cemented their musical partnership by way of Iyer's own quartet (see last year's Panoptic Modes, also on Red Giant) and an ongoing duo project called Raw Materials. It is largely their rhythmic and harmonic rapport that regulates Black Water's volatile tides.

Mahanthappa's music is highly active, influenced mainly by M-Base and non-Western rhythmic concepts. When he's in full gear, his lines practically overload the senses with their sheer velocity and timbral bite. But this new opus has a contemplative side; episodes like "Viraha" and "Faith" find him entering an incantational space that he carries off quite uniquely, his Indian influences coming to the fore. Titles like "What's a Jazz?" and "Are There Clouds In India?" seem to gently mock the child-like befuddlement that can accompany a first encounter with a foreign culture. The former cut, with a twisted contrapuntal head that almost sounds like a knowing update of "Ah-Leu-Cha", finds bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee delighting in a furious solo exchange. On "Joe Made the Face" (dedicated to Joe Viola), Iyer and Mahanthappa practically achieve a mind-meld, playing the tune's accelerating unison lines with a near-perfect symmetry. Mark Turner and Kurt Rosenwinkel displayed a comparable hook-up on "Bo Brussels", from Turner's In This World (Warner Bros.). This kind of elevation and refinement is not simply a cut above the norm; it arguably redefines the norm.



This review first appeared in the November 2002 issue of All About Jazz: New York .


Track Listing: Balancing Act; I Like It When You Play the Blues; Viraha; What's a Jazz?; Rejoice; Simonize; Joe Made the Face; Are There Clouds in India?; The Crossing; Faith (Intro); Faith.

Personnel: Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Vijay Iyer: piano; Francois Moutin: bass; Elliot Humberto Kavee: drums.

Title: Black Water | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Red Giant Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Wobbly Danse Flower CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Danse Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Carry Fire CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Currents 0" CD/LP/Track Review Currents 0
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 1
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "Jazz Flute Traditions" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Jaco Pastorius" CD/LP/Track Review Jaco Pastorius
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Onward" CD/LP/Track Review Onward
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "There Is No Love" CD/LP/Track Review There Is No Love
by Phil Barnes
Published: July 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.