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Hellborg/Lane/Selvaganesh/Umashankar/Umamahesh: Icon

Jim Santella By

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Music: the universal language.

As civilizations developed around the world, music evolved alongside regional and cultural differences. The most basic of elements have always been there in common, but differences exist and continue to keep cultures apart. The human voice takes on various colors, even without language. Tuning may give one program preferences over another, depending on the listener’s ear. Then, there’s the instrumentation to deal with. The kanjeera, konokol and ghatam may be unfamiliar to many of us. Still, it's not at all difficult to recognize hands on drums, vocal chants and musical virtuosity in any form.

Jonas Hellborg and Shawn Lane take one obvious common thread in contemporary music and pair it with traditional Indian improvised music. The jazz umbrella does, indeed, stretch that far. Their electric bass and electric guitar could blend easily with any music. This time out, the formula casts a Mahavishnu shadow with exotic flavors that represent many cultures. Next time, it could easily originate from another corner of the globe.

Vocal scatting, virtuosic percussion and heavy jazz-fusion landscapes give the album an interesting face. Trading fours and stretching out individually, the artists interpret jazz from a mainstream point of view. There’s a lot to like, especially for those of us who enjoy a geographically wider jazz umbrella.


Track Listing: Anchor, Mirror, Vehicle, Escape

Personnel: Jonas Hellborg, bass; Shawn Lane, guitar; V. Umamahesh, vocals; V. Selvaganesh, Kanjeera, Konokol; V. Umashankar, Ghatam, Konokol

Title: Icon | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Barto Records

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