Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rudresh Mahanthappa - Kinsmen (Pi Recordings, 2008)

Alto saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa has become one of the freshest players on the modern jazz scene, combining the tart and exploratory alto saxophone grounded in Ornette Coleman and musical conception based on his east Indian heritage. This album melds jazz and Indian classical music as Mahanthappa collaborates with Kadri Gopalnath on alto saxophone, A. Kanyakumari on violin, Rez Abassi on guitar, Carlo de Rosa on bass, Royal Hartigan on drums and Poovalur Sriji on percussion. I found the music on this album to be very exciting and unpredictable. The sound of twin alto saxophones with strings and percussion is an unusual one and has a vital and bracing energy. The performances I enjoyed the most were "Ganesha" named for the Hindu god of wisdom and "Snake!" both of which were very high energy improvisations, with the instruments swirling around each other like birds in flight. The album concludes with "Convergence (Kinsmen)" which consolidates all of the musical exploration found in the album in an epic, multi-layered improvisation. This album is quite an accomplishment. Compiling music from across multiple cultures and melding them in the all encompassing crucible that is modern jazz, Mahanthappa and his comrades have created thoughtful and memorable music that is very well executed.

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