Various Artists: Miles From India
Miles From India
Miles From India (Times Square Records TSQ-CD-1808)
John McLaughlin (guitar),
Sikkil Gurucharan (vocals), Louiz Banks (keyboards), U. Srinivas (mandolin).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: Chennai, India, November 2006-July 2007
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
John McLaughlin penned the title cut for this Bob Belden production which, along with McLaughlin's Floating Point, was nominated for a 2008 Grammy. Both albums focus on Western music, or Western- based music, as performed by groups integrated with jazz musicians and Indian musicians. Belden suggests in the liner notes that he is after a "universal truth" that exists in "reconciliation between disparate cultures." I would say he found it.
This slow, introspective, but eventually hopeful ballad is without percussion. You do your own silent counting. Vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan creates the tune's atmosphere. Each musician takes a turn. McLaughlin knows this terrain perhaps better than any Western musician. Heck, he invented much of it. He has a beautiful sound on this recording. His solo, over Banks's keyboard-created drone, is a plea to the heavens. His accompaniment is a supportive halleluiah. Mandolin player U. Srinivas, a member of McLaughlin's Remember Shakti band, plays with as much meaning and purpose as McLaughlin. The interplay between the two plectrists is the opposite of culture clash; it is nothing short of touching brilliance. The tune fades, but the memory remains. Belden's judgment to end the 2-CD set with this cut is fitting.
I would suggest that Belden could not have produced Miles From India had there not been a John McLaughlin. His presence as a leader in this Indo-jazz movement goes back three decades to Shakti. He was by no means the first to head in that direction, but he is the movement's towering figure. Belden gives McLaughlin his just dues in the liner notes.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky