Devotion uses the human voice for spiritual purposes, looping devotional chants from the Hindu, Sufi Islam and Sikh traditions, sung by leading practitioners of each liturgy, into Sabbah's uniquely synthetic, trippy music. "Trippy" is the keyword because Sabbah's sound collages travel backward and forward through both historical time and geographical space.
The opening "Jai Bhavani," one of two features for Anup Jalota, one of India's premier singers, footprints the template for every ensuing track, an electronic trance landscape that creeps forward in a hypnotic tempo, punctuated by percussion, with flute and chorus underlining then echoing Jalota's evocative lead vocal. When Sabbah cranks up the tempo, here and then later in Jalota's dervish turn through "Aaye Bhairav Bholanath," every sound and word twirls together faster, and the feeling that he's connecting you to a profoundly spiritual place correspondingly grows more intense.
"Kinna Sohna," written by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and sung by Master Saleem, sounds like the most heartfelt of prayers and feels especially timeless when its closing echo repeatedly twinkles then fades.
The languid reggae beat of the dub-style "Haun Vaari Haun Varaney" makes this ten-minute centerpiece of Sabbah's expansively spread table feel like the surrender of ecstasy, especially when Harnam Singh's incantation lifts and carries you heavenward. "Morey Pya Bassey" features Indian classical singer Shubha Mudgal and also bubbles along a metronomic reggae-style beat, one that pulses through this set's most evocative instrumentation, as Sabbah constantly melts musical and religious traditions from so many different cultures into this softly liquid pool.
There's a rhythm track to the closing, title song, but it provides no actual rhythm or tempo. Instead, it floats a prayerful atmosphere in free "real" time behind the blissful sound of adults and children chanting their devotions, and returns Devotion to where it begana heart of worship.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.