CD Review: Barb Jungr, Kuljit Bhamra, Russell Churney – Durga Rising: An Indo-Jazz Adventure

Barb Jungr, Kuljit Bhamra, Russell Churney – Durga Rising: An Indo-Jazz Adventure
(Keda Records KEDCD46.CD Review by Chris Parker)

Recorded in 1996, but available only by mail order until now, Durga Rising is billed as ‘an Indo-Jazz Adventure’, but compared with, say, the Mayer/Harriott Indo-Jazz Fusions recordings, or the intriguing albums made for Babel by Amit Chaudhuri under the thought-provoking rubric ‘This is Not Fusion’, singer Barb Jungr, percussionist Kuljit Bhamra and the late pianist Russell Churney combine to make music that owes a great deal more to pop and even jazz cabaret than to either advertised form.

Not that this is necessarily a disadvantage: Jungr’s voice, always a wonderfully affecting instrument, with its trademark throbbing tremolo emphasising particularly dramatic moments, and its ability to switch seamlessly between delicacy and power, is tellingly set against Bhamra’s subtly dexterous tablas and Churney’s limpid, elegant piano to make an immediately attractive and frequently downright hypnotic album, its originals infectiously catchy, its covers (which include a raunchily effective version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’and a sensuous reading of John Martyn’s Go Down Easy’) utterly compelling.

There are guest appearances from guitarist/banjo player James Tomalin (who also co-wrote three tracks) and the exceptional cellist Stanley Adler (who was often heard with Mike and Kate Westbrook at this time), and overall, this fifteen-track album (four hitherto unreleased songs are included here), while not exactly the ‘genre-defying’ music that might be expected from its packaging, is none the less pleasing, even beguiling, for that.

Available from Keda Records

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