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CD Review: Rudresh Mahanthappa – Gamak

Rudresh Mahanthappa – Gamak
(ACT 9537-2. CD Review by Chris Parker)

‘Western forms of jazz, progressive rock, heavy metal, country, American folk, go-go and ambient’, plus the ‘rich traditions of Indian, Chinese, African and Indonesian music’ are the various sources alto saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa cites as important in producing the music on this, his thirteenth album as leader or co-leader, but the resultant recording – given said heterogeneousness – is surprisingly coherent in approach.

Mahanthappa’s is a fierce (occasionally pleasantly raucous), driving sound, whether he’s operating in prog-rock (‘Waiting is Forbidden’), bustling jazz bombast (‘Lots of Interest’), or even raw punk mode (‘Majesty of the Blues’), and his front-line partner (their musical rapport honed via their collaboration in Jack DeJohnette’s band), guitarist David Fiuczynski, is, if anything, even more adventurous than his leader in his selection of appropriate texture and timbre for specific purposes (everything from screaming rock to scrabbling free-jazz playing to gentle Hawaiian-like sounds).

Consequently, this is a richly multi-hued album seething with ideas, dense, energetic, imaginative, its powerful, wild soloists deftly anchored by Mahanthappa’s regular rhythm team, bassist François Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss.

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