Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive - Ragmala: A Garland Of Ragas (Meta Records, 2019)

World music and jazz advocate Adam Rudolph brings his Go: Organic Orchestra to a summit meeting with Brooklyn Raga Massive's progressive Indian classical musicians to create a very interesting amalgam of sound. It's an enormous group, but one that is nimble and can break out into smaller parts, improvise like a jazz band and fearlessly combine diverse genres. "Rotations" is a very interesting blend where world music meets seventies soundtracks melded to exotica and Bollywood aesthetic points all melded into one fascinating mix buoyed by bubbling bass and percussion. Bowed instruments and vocals move "Savannahs" to great heights, building over eleven minutes also carving out space for harp and complex and complex hand percussion. "Ascent to Now" is quite atmospheric with percussion and flute building from the ground up with funky bass and drum kit and some horns adding a gritty punch. Superior sounding flute playing in both solos and support recall the soulful jazz of Lloyd McNeill or Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Slashing electric guitar breaks through on "Glare of the Tiger" initially mining a mid 1970's Miles Davis groove, where the atmosphere develops as deep bass, keyboards, and drums drive the music forward. Exotic strings and horns add further texture taking the music further afield from its beginning and showing the depth that this ensemble has as the instruments weave in and out forming a diverse tapestry of sound. "Turia" is presumably a nod to the great Alice Coltrane, with a nice sound of organ and bass with adventurous strings arcing over the soundscape and the groove rides nicely over their soaring sound, drawing in bass, drums and subtle saxophone into the mix. Bass, flute and handclaps delve into a cool area for "Chakawali" adding chanting vocals, which have a deep and emotional incantation and the track sounds like a processional, adding piano and strings to frame the singing. "Africa 21" brings some wonderful afrobeat horns, think Fela or more recently Budos Band, with some gutsy saxophone soloing over drums and percussion and the rest of the band providing propulsive riffing. Flute takes over for a throaty solo, eventually trading sections with the saxophonist and wordless vocalizing. Combining two groups this large and diverse could be difficult, but the arrangements and the playing on this album are both cohesive and very good. They cover a large swath of ground on this double album, but the music never drags and always seems fresh and invigorating. Ragmala: A Garland Of Ragas - amazon.com

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