Rudresh Mahanthappa: Ganesha
Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax)
Kinsmen (Pi Recordings 128)
A. Kanyakumari (violin), Rez Abassi (guitar), Poovalur Sriji (mridangam), Carlo de Rosa (bass), royal hartigan (drums).
Composed by Rudresh Mahanthappa and Kadri Gopalnath.
Recorded: Brooklyn, November 13-14, 2007
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
This invigorating track from the stellar CD Kinsmen has been in frequent rotation on my CD player. Instead of driving the song structure with chord changes, Mahanthappa sets it in motion via a repeating 14-beat melodic pattern with a heavy funk orientation - think of it as a Carnatic "Chameleon." (Whoops . . . Boy George may have that phrase trademarked.) But the presence of alto saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and violinist Avasarala Kanyakumari soon take this into musical currents far beyond the conventional formulas of fusion, or even jazz for that matter. I have been very impressed with the interplay between these two artists in other settings, and they again deliver a stunning performance here. Mahanthappa follows with a brilliant solo, more grounded in the jazz vocabulary, but he is also channeling some heavy South Indian spirits as well. The rhythm section is outstanding throughout this 11-minute performance, and might even leave you wondering why the mridangam, a double-headed drum associated with Carnatic music, doesn't show up more often on groove tunes.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
If you liked this track, also check out
The South Asian Tinge in Jazz by Ted Gioia