172

Tabla Beat Science: Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Tabla Beat Science: Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove Two years ago this thing called Tabla Beat Science came our way from the Bill Laswell crew, and Tala Matrix was a sure sign that Laswell had not lost it after a few severe disasters. It brought together four formidable tabla masters (and more) for a hypnotic wash of sound.

Bringing computer production together with Indian music was a great idea. But Laswell's long been a fan of mice, buttons, and knobs... so a live record from a similar group arrived this year with some trepidation.

The 2-CD set Live in San Francisco proves to the world that this unusual combination of East and West very much belongs in the realm of live performance. Before proceeding, a bit about ragas for the uninitiated: there are hundreds, and each one has a core rhythm that every player must respect. This is the tala, which can span time signatures into outer space (as well as the more usual 4/4, used here). Tabla player Zakir Hussain (who's gladly been very active lately in recording lately) takes the lead position in this group, which also includes Ustad Sultan Khan. Khan's message: never neglect the sarangi (a string instrument), which intertwines with the tabla like a snake to network the tala. Interestingly, his vocals often function in much the same way. The rest follows naturally: an extended improvised elaboration of melodic themes, each player pushing the others.

At moments this music is entirely south Asian, and at others it's more American. The concept of Tabla Beat Science is to blend the two sensibilities, in a way that makes them sound like they have been melting together for decades. At the center—and this is crucial—is improvisation. This feeling becomes perfectly clear on the second disc when "Gigi" Shibabaw joins Sultan Khan in a vocal interchange that trades American lyrics with devotional vocals, and it works. Now it must be said that Laswell did do some tinkering, but the source material comes through loud and clear. Tablas, sarangi, vocals—together with synthesizers, electronics, and turntables. The mood throughout the hour and half of Live in San Francisco remains one of elation: gentle, propulsive, and revelatory. It's hard to make that combination work, so hats off to the group. (We could have done with a little less of Laswell's robotic bass; and a better turntablist would have helped, but those flaws are small dots in the big picture.)

Track Listing: Taaruf; Sacred Channel; Nafeke; Ap Ke Baras; Magnetic Dub; Satellite (Show Me the Worth of the World); Tala Matrix; Trajic; Mangedegna; Devotional Dub.

Personnel: Zakir Hussain: tabla; Ustad Sultan Khan: vocals, sarangi; Eligayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw: vocals; Bill Laswell: bass, production; Karsh Kale: drums, tabla; DJ Disk: turntables; Midival Punditz: laptop/electronics; Fabian Alsultany: synthesizer.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Axiom | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Tangled CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Is It Me...? CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read 14.11.2016 CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Transient" CD/LP/Track Review Transient
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Miguel Angelo Quarteto: A Vida de X" CD/LP/Track Review Miguel Angelo Quarteto: A Vida de X
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Iceland" CD/LP/Track Review Iceland
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "No Coming, No Going – The Music of Peter Kuhn 1978-1979" CD/LP/Track Review No Coming, No Going – The Music of Peter Kuhn...
by John Sharpe
Published: August 5, 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!