508

Amit Chaudhuri: This Is Not Fusion

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Amit Chaudhuri: This Is Not Fusion Being opposed to musical fusion in 2010 is a bit like being opposed to digital technology. It appears rather ridiculous, for the comingling of global musical flavors is now practically the norm. It's not a norm shared by the Calcutta-born novelist and poet Amit Chaudhuri, who takes a contrary tack on This Is Not Fusion.



Chaudhuri is a prominent literary figure in Britain, where he is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Less well known, but equally distinguished, are his musical credentials. Trained as a singer of classical Hindustani music, as a teenager in the 1970s he took up guitar and turned to rock, blues and jazz. He returned exclusively to North Indian music in the 1980s, before embracing Western music again around 2002.



The idea for This Is Not Fusion took root when Chaudhuri became interested in replacing conventional Indian-Western fusion—whose cameo roles for "exotic" instruments, styles and players he regards as superficial—with an exploration of deeper intersections between the musics. One such intersection, which opens This Is Not Fusion, is guitarist Eric Clapton's riff for the title track of the Derek & The Dominos album "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" (Polydor, 1970); the riff uses precisely the same assembly of notes as the raga Todi. Another example is George Gershwin's "Summertime," whose scalar structure is shared with the raga Malkauns. In his liner essay, which is well researched and elegantly written, Chaudhuri explains that the goal of the explorations is to find a "point of entry" into one musical tradition or system through another one.



The project may sound a bit labored and academic—but it isn't. The music is vibrant and, mostly, sumptuously performed. The least successful track is "The Layla Riff to Todi," because guitarist Prasenjit Ghosal, no slouch elsewhere, inevitably fails to put Clapton's iconic delivery in the shade. "Summertime," by contrast, featuring trumpeter Jonathan Impett, is a magical reinvention, as are half a dozen other tracks.



Another intersection, mentioned by Chaudhuri in his essay but not included on This Is Not Fusion, is that of "Auld Lang Syne" and the raga Bhupali. That connection has also been made by the British pianist Zoe Rahman, who featured its intriguingly close cousin "Purano Sei," by the Bengali Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, on Where Rivers Meet (Manushi, 2008), an entrancing album of "pure" Bengali music made with her clarinet playing brother, Idris Rahman.



Both albums are "non-fusion," and both are warmly recommended.


Track Listing: The Layla Riff to Todi; Dotara; Summertime; Shree in Two Keys; Moral Education; Freewheeling Jog; Trucker; All India Radio; Berlin; Motz.

Personnel: Amit Chaudhuri: vocals, acoustic guitar, dhunuri; Prasenjit Ghosal: guitar; Indrajit Dey: keyboards; Mainak Nag Choudhury: bass, dotara; backing vocals; Ashok Mukherjee: tabla; Jonathan Impett: trumpet (3, 8); Amyt Datta: slide guitar (7); Jenny Sobek: voice (9).

Title: This Is Not Fusion | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Babel Label


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read What Brought You Here? CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read My Head Is Listening CD/LP/Track Review My Head Is Listening
by John Sharpe
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Passin' Thru CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Ugly Beauty CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Peninsular" CD/LP/Track Review Peninsular
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Swivel" CD/LP/Track Review Swivel
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Sea Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Sea Ahead
by James Nadal
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "The Happiest Man In The World" CD/LP/Track Review The Happiest Man In The World
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 17, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A DONATION  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!