Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition - Apti (Innova, 2008)

I am a big fan of alto saxophonist and composer Mahanthappa, his tart saxophone sounds like a logical extension of Ornette Coleman's and his improvisations are always fresh and exciting. On this disc, he is joined by Rez Abbasi on guitar and sitar-guitar (that must look cool!) and Dan Weiss on tablas. The music here has a very understated and thoughtful nature, and it was so low key that it took me a while to get into it. But once I got attuned to what the musicians were doing, I really began to enjoy it. Abbasi's guitar and sitar add some very fascinating and unusual texture to the music, and Weiss's use of tablas instead of the usual drum kit allows for a more nimble and soft-hued palate for the other two to improvise over. Being me, of course I enjoyed the fast paced free-bop of the finale the most. "You Talk Too Much" ramps things up for a final send off, with shimmering alto saxophone over whip tight guitar and propulsive percussion. But this isn't to say that the rest of the disc is bland, because it is not. There is a very compassionate blending of musical styles and ideas here, blending music from the Indian sub-continent with modern jazz. It's probably too much to ask for musicians to heal the India-Pakistan divide, but they show that music can go a long way in promoting peace and understanding among all people.

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