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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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JOHN MAYER's
INDO JAZZ FUSIONS

Ragatal

NIMBUS NI 5569

 

 

  1. Chhota Mitha
  2. Partita
  3. Dance of the Pisachas
  4. Multani
  5. Miyan ki Malhar
  6. Serenade
  7. Bengal Blues
  8. Prayoga

John Mayer, violin
Chris Featonby, double bass
Steve Tromans, piano
Andrew Bratt, drums
James McDowall, flute
Anna Brooks, saxophone
Dave Smith, trumpet
Jonathan Mayer, sitar
Harjinder Matharu, tabla
Richard Young, percussion
rec. October 1997, Concert Hall of the Nimbus Foundation
[62:37]

 

Nimbus offered a fine conduit for the revivified John Mayer's Indo Jazz Fusions. Back in October 1997, over two consecutive days, the band met to record this album and it sounds as fresh and valuable as it did back then. Chhota Mitha is based on a Raga but doesn't include the fifth note of the scale. A thunderous back beat is set up and contrasted against more obviously Indian sections. In a much longer piece, such as Partita, where the music-as throughout is overwhelmingly written out and not improvised-important soloistic roles are full of propulsive and colouristic vitality, not least for bass, piano, and for Mayer's violin. A trumpet and alto section sounds decidedly West Coast in orientation, so too the flute excursions. The boppish elements that begin Dance of the Pisachas sustain its compact proportions, whilst Multani offers a long opening Mayer solo, followed by a sitar bridge section to the straight-ahead Indian section, thence to a searing saxophone solo.

If this implies that the music is stop-start, and that Jazz elements are contrasted with, but not integrated to the Indian elements-that's to say unfused-it wouldn't be wholly true, though I sense that this is what happens from time to time. Miyan ki Malhar generates a funky quality with rather Hubert Laws flute work, then gravitates toward High Life township with a Copacabana kick. I happen to like this plurality, though others will find it bizarrely unfocused. Serenade opens with a very romantic Mayer introduction, and then moves off to Kind of Blue waters.

Alyn Shipton's notes set the scene well, and the recording is first class. I've not mentioned any of the musicians by name thus far except the leader, but it goes without saying that their virtuosity and control is a mark of both their discipline and individual flair.

Jonathan Woolf



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