Resonance

Walter Kolosky only writes reviews of music that he highly recommends :-)
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Resonance
              Pandit Satish Vyas and Marc Rossi         Sony  88697 95106 2


Pandit Satish Vyas: santoor
Marc Rossi: keyboards
Lance Van Lenten: saxophone, flute
Bill Urmson: bass
Vishal Nagar: tabla



So ubiquitous these days, East meets West musical projects have almost become cliche. For decades, western jazz musicians have been looking to India for ideas beyond the boundaries of western music precepts. Indian music has its own rules based on ragas and talas (rhythms), of course, but the thought is combining the two differing paradigms will exponentially expand the possibilities.


As a listener with western ears, my own experience is that these collaborative efforts are only as good as the western musicians in them. And if these musicians think they can just dabble in Indian music and make things work, they are mistaken. The best of these composite efforts always includes a western musician(s) immersed in Indian classical forms. There are far fewer of these people than you would think. The seventies groups Shakti and Oregon, still around in different forms, are the main forefathers in this milieu.

Today, other jazz musicians such as Stu Goldberg and Lukas Pickford are helping to lead the way in the Indo-jazz -fusion field. Also among the genre’s leaders is pianist Marc Rossi, who has spent decades studying both jazz and Indian classical music. On several recordings now, including his other recent album Mantra Revealed, Rossi has been proved to be the real deal-a western musician who gets the Indian thing.

Resonance, my favorite album of this genre in many years, contains eight glorious pieces that highlight what can be done when cultures have a friendly clash. (A paper insert causes some confusion as it lists some of the songs’ introductions as separate entities. Just use the CD cover for song title details.)

Santoor player Pandit Satish Vyas co-leads the session with Rossi. Rossi wrote the majority of the compositions while Vyas had his hand in three.  Vyas was taught by the santoor legend Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Rossi is one of the leading jazz pianists on the scene and he has composed short and long form pieces for symphony orchestras all over the world. The skills of saxophonist Lance Van Lenten, bassist Bill Urmson and tabla player Vishal Nagar are put to full use on each wide-ranging excursion, playfully skirting the lines that separate the two disciplines.

It would be difficult to point to cuts that standout from each other, as each is quite sublime. The opening five minutes of the album's first piece, “Reminiscence” lays down the formula. It is the stretching before the exercise. If pushed though, my favorite is “Bittersweet Five” which sounds like what the Flecktones would sound like if they came from Mumbai!

The major strength of Resonance, despite its sometimes complicated structures, is that it is thoroughly accessible . The riffs, melodies, rhythms and hooks grab instant attention whether you are aware of the structures or not. Resonance is world jazz-fusion music you can both meditate and bob your head to.
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