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Amancio D'Silva: Konkan Dance

Chris May By

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After decades of neglect, the work of Goan-born guitarist Amancio D'Silva (1936-96) edged back towards the mic last summer with the re-release of his 1969 cross-cultural masterpiece, Integration. A pioneering blend of Indian raga, hard bop and early electric Miles, plus fainter traces of ska, rembetika, Link Wray, Ennio Morricone and more, Integration featured the recently arrived in London guitarist alongside some of Britain's most inventive jazz musicians, including saxophonist Don Rendell and trumpeter Ian Carr, as did his other 1969 album, Hum Dono, co-led with saxophonist Joe Harriott.

In D'Silva's all-too-brief recording career, Integration and Hum Dono are the crowning creative glories, but two other albums, recorded from 1972-74, are almost as important. Konkan Dance and Dream Sequence/Cosmic Eye retained the raga-meets-jazz essence of D'Silva's music, but the first added a tab of acid rock to the mix, and the second added a handful.

Although tapes of Konkan Dance have circulated privately, and the opening track, "A Street In Bombay," was included on Gilles Peterson's Brit jazz compilation Impressed 2 in 2004, this is the first time the album has been officially released. It comes with well researched and informative liner notes by D'Silva's guitarist son, Stephano (who has also put together a great website covering his father's life and music).

The textures, if not the structures, of D'Silva's native Indian musics are more to the fore on Konkan Dance than on earlier albums. There are in effect two sitar players—D'Silva, who plays his guitar at times as though it were a sitar, and Clem Alford, who plays an actual sitar. Tabla players Mick Ripshar and Keshav Sathe are also included in the lineup. Rendell continues to make his uniquely unruly mark on tenor and soprano saxophones, but the drums (probably played here by Dougie Wright, who also appeared on Dream Sequence/Cosmic Eye) are altogether more rock-ish than on Integration (which featured Trevor Tomkins) or Hum Dono (which featured Bryan Spring). Multi-instrumentalist Alan Branscombe adds mostly background prog and acid rock colours throughout.

The first three tracks here are primo D'Silva, in particular "A Street In Bombay," with stirring solos from Rendell and the leader, and "A Song For Francesca," which includes D'Silva's first recorded use of acoustic guitar (an instrument he would concentrate on in later years). Only the title track fails fully to survive the passing decades. Its fuzz box 'n' power chords theme today sounds rather pedestrian and worn out. But this is an important—and massively enjoyable—release, only available now, 33 years after it was recorded and ten years after D'Silva's passing.


Track Listing: A Street In Bombay; What Maria Sees; A Song For Francesca; Konkan Dance.

Personnel: Amancio D'Silva: electric and acoustic guitars; Don Rendell: tenor and soprano saxophones; Alan Branscombe: flute, vibraphone, electric piano; Toni Campo: bass; Stan Tracey: piano; Clem Alford: sitar; Mick Ripshar or Keshav Sathe: tablas; unknown (possibly Dougie Wright): drums.

Title: Konkan Dance | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Vocalion


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