Marc Rossi: Hidden Mandala
Marc Rossi (keyboards)
Hidden Mandala (Gravity Records 4001)
Marc Rossi (keyboards),
Geetha Bennett (vocals), Lance Van Lenten (sax, flute), Bill Urmson (bass), Mauricio Zottarelli (drums and percussion).
Composed by Mark Rossi.
Recorded: Boston, MA, November 2004
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Pianist Marc Rossi is onto something here. That is not to say that he hasn't been onto something for quite some time during an impressive career. A respected Berklee faculty member, Rossi is himself a devoted student of Hindustani and Carnatic music. That is a rarity for a Western keyboard player. I am aware of only two established jazz pianists who have decided to follow in any way the precepts of Indian music (which lacks a piano history) to influence their composing and playing. The other would be Stu Goldberg. That being said, Goldberg, though not exclusively, seems to focus more on the traditional sounds of India. Rossi tends to play a Western keyboard style in the context of Indian music's cycles. But a single listen to this album makes clear that Rossi and his band are not tied down to any rules of any music. As a result, much of the music on Hidden Mandala has nothing to do with Indian tala cycles or ragas.
"Hidden Mandala" is a totally modern straight-ahead jazz piece frameworked within the traditions of the raga. Rossi's piano plays the introduction. The bass and then the sax enter. The rhythm starts. The vocals of Geetha Bennet double the melody. A very strange and wondrous thing happens at this point. Despite the undoubtedly sonorous Indian sound of Bennett, her voice in combination with the instrumentation and rhythms makes the tune sound like a Spanish and Indian hybrid, which is something I have not heard before. It is like Flora Purim and Airto meet Shakti. This synergy is counterintuitive. The song is somewhat circular in nature, returning to Indian structure and Western tones, and features several outstanding solos, until an Indian orchestrated final section. These players are definitely in touch with their hidden mandalas. This music is high energy, high concept and high culture.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky