Australian pianist ROB GRUNDEL finds narratives in the CDs he listens to, and writes here about Arun Ghosh’s Primal Odyssey (Camoci):
It’s quite simple.
Arun Ghosh is about to tell you a story.
He’s going to tell you using three clarinets, a bass and some drums.
The whole story will take around 40 minutes. So let us begin.
This is Primal Odyssey, Ghosh’s second album of Indo-Jazz. He has teamed up with some wonderful musicians on this release: Idris Rahman and Shabaka Hutchings holding down clarinet, bass clarinet and saxophone duties. Bassist Liran Dorin and drummer Pat Illingworth maintain the solid grooves.
Each of the 10 songs is concise. Within the first few bars Ghosh (or, more often, the rhythm section) introduces the feel, groove and drive of the song. From there, the band explore it, stretch in it and then finish without fanfare. The simplicity of the structures allow the musicians to really dig in. Ghosh’s spectrum of playing ranges from delicate to Ayleresque wailing.
The music on this Indo-Jazz record is both foreign and familiar – its (and Ghosh’s) heritage are betrayed by uneven rhythms, exotic scales and use of drones. At the same time it is raw, funky and vital. Also the combined texture of three clarinets makes for different listening than a more traditional jazz combo.
And so, what is the story that he tells? It is one where the tension rarely lets up – it keeps us enthralled, in the uptempo tracks such as Damascus and in the quiet, hypnotic moments like Eros. It is one of a hero, that much is sure. But wait! Trouble approaches. The villian is introduced. There is a skirmish, a long journey through a cold night, who is this beguiling woman? The final battle is close to being won.
And then it all ends in a wonderful release. Nocturne (Chandra Dhun) is a spare piece: with only the 3 clarinets mostly on 2 major chords – a change from the dramatic exoticism through the rest of the album.
The end brings sighs of fulfilment. But it is also a beginning. I’m eager to hear the whole story again soon – there are the favourite bits I will want experience again, but also the promise of fresh discoveries.