Trilok Gurtu: Shobharock
Trilok Gurtu (percussion, voice)
Usfret (CMP CD 33)
Shoba Gurtu (voice), Daniel Goyone (keyboards), L. Shankar (violin), Jonas Hellborg (bass).
Composed by Trilok Gurtu.
Recorded: Zerkall, Germany, 1987-1988
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
The amazing percussionist Trilok Gurtu first came to prominence with the world music group Oregon. He would later achieve greater fame with the John McLaughlin Trio, where his wild East-meets-West percussion forays became highlights of every show. In performance, Gurtu surrounds himself with Indian percussion instruments of every sort and a small traditional drum kit. He plays sitting and or kneeling. His percussion pallet is as big as anyone's. He may strike a small cymbal, then drop it in and pull it out of a bucket of water. He may squeeze squeaky toys, blow a whistle, shake a handful of small bells or strike an impressive Western backbeat or snare roll. And he does it all with an infectious smile that in itself is part of a wondrous rhythm.
Gurtu has released many worthwhile recordings on his own over the years. He is clearly one of the fathers of the burgeoning Indian world and jazz music movement. (In case you haven't heard, India is where the jazz shit is really happening these days!) "Shobharock" is a piece of work, named in honor of Gurtu's mother, Shobha Gurtu. An accomplished Indian vocalist who passed away in 2004, Shobha raises her voice to great effect on this fusion number. The theme is ushered in by a low drone. The great Indian classical violinist L. Shankar, or just "Shankar" as he appears in the credits, divulges the tune's mesmerizing theme over Gurtu's Western-style drumming. Gurtu will change his percussion character several times during this excursion. Swedish bassist Jonas Hellborg maintains the bottom with a relentless precision groove. The group sound is overwhelming in its scope. Jazz trumpeter Don Cherry has a solo. Oregon's fine guitarist Ralphe Towner takes his turn. Truth be told, there is really too much going on here. But "Shobharock" is an ethnically and stylistically mixed musical mosh that is well worth the sensory overload.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky