Surinder Sandhu: Amirah
Surinder Sandhu Saurang Orchestra
Surinder Sandhu Saurang Orchestra (Resonator Records Reso 101)
Surinder Sandhu (sarangi),
Chandra Chakraborty (vocals), Shabhaz Hussain (tabla, syllables), S.V. Balakrishna (mridangam, ghatam, syllables), Rajeeb Chakraborty (sarode), Kousic Sen (tabla), Andy Sheppard (sax), Steve Vai (guitar), Dudley Phillips (bass), Mark Anderson (drums) with players from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
Composed by Surinder Sandhu.
Recorded: England, India and the U.S., 2003
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
In India there are only three Masters left teaching the sarangi, an ancient bowed stringed instrument from the Northern Indian tradition. The paucity of its practitioners is relative to its extreme difficulty to play. Surinder Sandhu, an Indian raised in the UK, has had to travel to India many times to learn it. Though no one truly masters anything, Sandhu has an ironfisted grasp of the sarangi's tradition and the open mind needed for its future.
This CD is revelatory, a stunning collage of Indian-influenced jazz and symphonic power. The composing, arranging and orchestration of "Amirah" were all done by Sandhu. The members of the Saurang Orchestra, culled from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, are given plenty to do. Guitarist Steve Vai also makes an appearance on "Amirah." The rock star Steve Vai? Yes! He plays some beautiful Far Eastern guitar. Also performing to great effect are sax players George Brooks and Andy Sheppard, while Shabhaz Hussain displays a confident mastery of the tabla. Of special interest is the talented drummer Mark Anderson. But the star of this fusion of Indian classical music, jazz and symphonic power is Sandhu. His sarangi produces a low-register haunting whine that enters from the core of this Carnatic creation to permeate all that you hear.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky