Charlie Mariano: Parvati's Dance
Charlie Mariano (saxes, reeds, nagaswaram)
Helen 12 Trees (MPS 15483)
Zbigniew Seifert (violin), John Marshall (drums), Nippy Noya (percussion).
Composed by Charlie Mariano.
Recorded: Munich, Germany, May 1976
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Saxophonist Charlie Mariano is an admirer of the South Indian musical tradition and is a gifted player of the Indian double-reed wind instrument the nagaswaram. He put together the perfect band to play his composition "Parvati's Dance." It comes as no surprise that keyboardist Jan Hammer has an affinity for Indian music. He was a great fan of virtuoso vina player S. Balachander. Even today Hammer talks of the influence Balachander, who played a stringed instrument, has on his synthesizer playing. Hammer sought to phrase and bend notes in the same way that Balachander used his strings. Hammer says some of this influence can be heard in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, especially on Birds of Fire, and on later tunes he wrote and performed such as "The Animals." Add to the mix one of the greatest jazz-rock violinists, Zbigniew Seifert, who could play anything, and bassist Jack Bruce, who had a jazz background and was no stranger to Eastern sounds, and you had a veritable West-meets-East fusion even if there were no Easterners! John Marshall's percussion was Western-based, as was Nippy Noy's percussion. But Noya throws in some Brazilian accents to make things even more "world."
The main theme, as presented by Mariano on nagaswaram and Seifert in tandem, sounds like a heated conversation between two snake charmers. We are drawn into the exotic strains. There are comparisons between this performance and John McLaughlin's Indo-jazz Shakti band of that time. However, because of Mariano's sax contribution, the better comparison would be to today's highly popular Indian/world/jazz fusions that feature horns. (Saxophonist George Brooks's work with Surinder Sandhu comes to mind.) Perhaps with MPS's reissue of Helen 12 Trees, more credit will be given to Charlie Mariano and his fellow musicians for foreshadowing one of today's most exciting jazz musical movements.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky