297

Marc Rossi Group: Hidden Mandala

By

Sign in to view read count
Marc Rossi Group: Hidden Mandala Although the categories of jazz and world music frequently intersect, the results are a mixed bag. It's no small task to meld together different ethnic musics without doing them some disservice. However, pianist and composer Marc Rossi brings something new and exciting to the field. On Hidden Mandala, Rossi's songs capture the rich possibilities of classical Indian music, but still stay true to their jazz roots.

This hybrid is made possible by Rossi's comfort in multiple genres. A graduate of the New England Conservatory and long-time composer in the fields of jazz and contemporary classical, Rossi has also been for many years an earnest student of North and South Indian musical traditions. Yet Rossi's playing remains firmly jazz-oriented. Consequently, the tunes on Hidden Mandala most often function as lucid jazz compositions: head and solos are demarcated by evident western harmony and vamp figures, even as the imminent possibilities of Indian forms let the soloists branch out and probe the songs in innovative ways.

Take for instance the opening track, "Blues for Frank and Geetha," which features the Indian Carnatic vocals of Geetha Bennett over a standard blues progression, followed by a 24-bar bridge. Rossi anchors the blues with a low-register figure in open fifths, at once giving the song a gutsy rootedness and the harmonic freedom to float out of western conventions. And so it does: after a couple bluesy choruses, saxophonist Lance Van Lenten takes off, calling upon Coltrane in a spirited solo.

All the songs admit a similarly global context. The graceful "Fatwa in Carbondale" broadens after two minutes through an unforeseen shift into an Afro-Cuban feel, propelling the tune in exciting directions. The musicians on Hidden Mandala are no less diverse. The inclusion of South Asian guitarist Prasanna on "Bittersweet Five" adds both a Metheny-like timbre and a singing quality of improvisation that again recalls classical Indian vocal melodies. All the while, Rossi's accompanying keyboard harmonies keep the song grounded in jazz, even as the improvisations speak to limitless possibilities.

Herein lies the strength of Rossi's compositions: his pieces are platforms, providing his players with great potential for ascent, just as he keeps a firm hold on the harmonic foundations. The "mandala," a visual art form used in Buddhist and Hindu meditation, concentrates one's spirit and focus while giving vision on a grander scale. Rossi's musical inventions perform this same feat admirably, providing a broader scope that encompasses jazz and South Asian forms.

Track Listing: Blues for Frank and Geetha; Hidden Mandala Intro; Fatwa in Carbondale; Hidden Mandala; Voice of 1000 Colors Intro; Free Speech Zone; Free Speech Zone Outro; Bittersweet Five.

Personnel: Marc Rossi: piano, keyboards; Lance Van Lenten: saxophones, flutes; Bill Urmson: electric bass; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums and percussion; Geetha Bennett: vocals; Bruce Arnold: guitars; Prasanna: guitars.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Gravity Records | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read "Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Sign of the Crow" CD/LP/Track Review Sign of the Crow
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Black Diamond" CD/LP/Track Review Black Diamond
by Joe Gatto
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Walk Against Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Walk Against Wind
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "One For Cisco" CD/LP/Track Review One For Cisco
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Live at the JazzRoom" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the JazzRoom
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!