Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Rudresh Mahanthappa: Mother Tongue

555

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Mother Tongue

By

Sign in to view read count
Rudresh Mahanthappa: Mother Tongue
When Indian-American altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa was growing up outside of his family homeland, he was frequently asked "Do you speak Indian?" or "Do you speak Hindu?" The questioners were apparently unaware that India isn't a mono or bilinguistic country and that its landscape includes seven languages. His eventual response to this was Mother Tongue , a CD featuring songs which are based on musical transcriptions of Indian-Americans answering that question, most of which are entitled for the language in which they respond, interpreted nimbly by a fine quartet featuring Mahanthappa, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist François Moutin and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee.

There's prologue, though, before the questions are answered. "The Preserver" is a pulsating burner in the vein of late-period Coltrane, with Mahanthappa supplying frentic raga-based riffs. "English" is a tune where general harmony transcends the gentle discord expressed through non-linear but well-coordinated playing. "Kannada" slows down the pace a bit, with Iyer following Mahanthappa's brooding, lyrical ideas and using them to form his own statement.

"Konkani" and "Tamil" are examples of organized chaos, brooding, almost angry and although the songs are almost anti-harmonic in the way they're built, it all comes together and works. "Malayam" is a solo turn by Mahanthappa, which proudly announces his Indian roots within the context of jazz, as fervent and heartfelt as a prayer. The final song, "Change of Perspective," could be called "Thus Spoke Mahanthappa" because it spirals along on a three-note figure at its center that rivals the A-C-E triad defining Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." Played initially at a measured pace, it accelarates to Mahanthappa's stream of consciousness solo, capped off with more Indian-influenced blowing at the end.

Mahanthappa's style varies from song to song, from single note phrases, to cascades, to querulous growls, clearly influenced by the rhythm and tone of each language he examines. And if there's a song for each language, then his composing and sax playing, like India itself, supports them all and provides dynamic common ground for their expression.

Track Listing

The Preserver; English; Kannada; Gujarati; Telugu; Circus; Konkani; Tamil; Malayalam; Change of Perspective

Personnel

Rudresh Mahanthappa
saxophone, alto

Rudresh Mahanthappa--alto saxophone; Vijay Iyer--piano; Fran

Album information

Title: Mother Tongue | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Local Businesses | More...

More

In Duo
David Liebman, Jeff Williams
Two Moons
Michelle Lordi
Homage
Michael Weiss
Being
Chris Rottmayer

Popular

Compassion
Vijay Iyer
Jazz Hands
Bob James
Esengo
London Afrobeat Collective

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.