You have to chuckle when you read a music review and the critic drops names and music styles in such an audacious manner that you know he/she has no idea what they are talking about. "The Spanish mellophone player drew heavily from a Transylvanian tradition..." Yeah, right.
But then again, the beauty of the moderndare I say, worldmusic experience is the unknown (to the listener) and the unexplored. Jazz has always been right there, 100 years ago fusing the African experience with European marches and Caribbean sounds. Fast forward to the Downtown New York experience of the late 20th century and that fusion invited Balkan, Indian and klezmer music to the bossa nova party.
Maybe you are unfamiliar with percussionist and composer Ravish Momin's particular brand of world jazz, but move over because there is plenty of room on the bus for all of us...
Ravish Momin's Trio Tarana
Miren (A Longing)
Indian-born percussionist Ravish Momin was raised in Bombay and Bahrain. His jazz experience came from study with drummer/percussionists Andrew Cyrille and Bob Moses at Carnegie Mellon University. His national exposure came with Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre and Sabir Mateen's bands.
Momin's Trio Tarana was formed to give light to his personal musical experience. It's a mix of East Asian musical traditions, including Japanese taiko drum ensembles, Afghani folk songs, Hindu chants and North/South Indian rhythm cycles. Miren is Momin's second release on this Portugal label, following Climbing The Banyan Tree (Clean Feed, 2005).
So the "roots" of this music are Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Fair enough, but you don't have to know anything about the Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument the cajon to know this music swings. The opening track, "Tehrah," rolls with a familiarity you can't quite place. Sam (Bruce Springsteen, Jazz Passengers) Barfeld's violin curls a folkish sound around the oud playing of Brandon Terzic. The music sounds very old yet infused with modern elements.
That timeless sound is carried through on "What Reward," as Terzic's opening oud solo is informed by none other than Robert Johnson's deal struck at the infamous crossroads. Yes, the blues. But nothing is out of place here, even though we are listening to a violin, drum set and oud telling the age old story.
The title track is a Japanese word meaning "a deeply felt sadness resulting from a longing for closure on something from the past." The band stretches out a bit here for a meditative rite. The composition "Fiza" is covered twice here, one version adding the viola of Tanya Kalmanovitch. This piece features Momin's flair for elegant writng and arranging. The music unfurls and changes in a seamless and fascinating manner, and the addition of the third stringed instrument adds depth to the recording.
Ravish Momin's Trio Tarana Five Nights
Recorded live in 2005 at the the Smithsonian Institution, the Five Nights version of Trio Tarana includes the original members plus Jason Kao Hwang on violin and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz on oud and bass.
The opening track is a lengthy meditative piece that sets the scene for the concert. Momin introduces his music to the listeners collecting sounds with an India meets Japan feel. The trio then plays the aptly titled "Peace For Kabul" in the middle of Washington D.C. Momin's hand-drumming and the forceful bass drive of Blumenkranz propel the violinist, before Blumenkranz switches to oud. The interplay is jazz, it's the instruments that are the difference.
Momin displays a knowledge of diverse rhythms throughout. His sound is rooted in India, but you frequently hear American jazz and blues. The disc comes to a fevered close with the members displaying some impressive soloing.
This music can be identified by many names. It might be confusing to a musicologist, but the audience certainly didn't need a program or explanation to enjoy the joyous energy produced.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Tehrah; Fiza; Ragalaya; Miren; What Reward?; Fiza.
Personnel: Ravis Momin: drums, percussion, cajon, talking drum; Sam Bardfeld: violin; Brandon Terzic: oud, effects; Tanya Kalmanovitch: viola.
Tracks: Dai Genyo; Peace For Kabul; Tehrah; Gyarah; Gathering Song.
Personnel: Ravish Momin: drums, percussion; Jason Kao Hwang: violin; Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: oud, bass.