Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joe Harriott - Indo-Jazz Suite (Atlantic, 1967)

Saxophonist Harriott had an interesting and all too short career. Born in Jamaica, the moved to London, and became a pioneer of Ornette Coleman like free jazz, before moving into experiments in ethnic inspired music. This collaboration between Indian and English musicians performing the compositions of John Mayer was very successful, and must have been a favorite in the swinging London of the late '60's. Each of the four performances here have a delightfully exotic feel, with the opening "Overture" melding flute and percussion with trumpet and saxophone over sitar accompaniment. "Contrasts" features Harriott's pungent alto saxophone and an interesting arrangement for piano, flute and riffing horns. "Rega Mehga" takes things even further out with Harriott improvising strongly over spicy sitar accompaniment. "Raga Gaud-Saranga" ends the album with some blustery trumpet over sitar and other Indian instruments and swirling flute. I found this album to be very enjoyable, it is wonderful to hear two musical cultures meet and find common ground.

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