Kadri Gopalnath: Gajavadhana Hamsadvani Adi Purandaradasar
Gajavadhana Hamsadvani Adi Purandaradasar
Kadri Gopalnath (alto sax)
Saxophone (Super Audio (Madras) 248)
Kadri Gopalnath (alto sax),
A. Kanyakumari (violin), Guruvayur Durai (mridangam), Rajasekar (morsing).
Recorded: No information given
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
This is decidedly not your typical world fusion effort. Of course, there is a fusion happening here - the mere use of the alto sax in Carnatic music signals a blurring of cultural boundaries - but Kadri Gopalnath is a deep visionary whose recordings resist the glib formulas that so often accompany the meeting of soundscapes of the East and West. Born in Panemangalore, in Dakshina Kannada district, Gopalnath was raised in a musical family, but his attempt to assimilate the vocabulary of South Indian music to the cranky horn invented by Belgian Adolphe Sax was a radical step of self-definition. Gopalnath's career took a quantum leap forward when he was invited onstage at a 1980 Mumbai jazz festival by visiting artist John Handy (whose pioneering work in merging jazz and Indian music deserves far more recognition). Since then, Gopalnath has established his reputation as "Saxophone Chakravarthy" or "Emperor of the Saxophone" in a series of recordings.
Here he develops a mesmerizing 11-minute performance that evokes the energy, although not the vocabulary, of jazz. Instead of conventional solos, Gopalnath engages in a rich dialogue with violinist A. Kanyakumari that serves as the centerpiece of this track. Percussion ebbs and flow, with an ever-changing pulse provided by mridangam (a South Indian relative of the tabla) and morsing (the Indian equivalent of a Jew's harp). The latter instrument is the closest thing to a bass on this performance, but skeptics need to hear the end results before dismissing it out of hand. However, Gopalnath is the star attraction here. Fans of sax music who haven't experienced the magic of this artist, need to do so forthwith . . . and this track is a great place to start.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
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