Slang & Purbayan Chatterjee – Pace of Mind
(Zig Zag World SL005. CD Review by Peter Slavid)
Those with fond memories of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti are going to find this a hugely enjoyable album. It has a very different line-up of sitar, bass and drums plus sax or flute – and that gives it a very different sound – but that unmistakable Indian Fusion feel is still there.
Slang are a well established, award winning Belgian fusion group made up of François Garny (bass), Manuel Hermia (sax & flutes) and Michel Seba (drums & percussions). They have described their music as “ethno-Coltrane-rock” which is an interesting indication of the style. Hermia has released his own conventional jazz albums in the past and was involved a few years ago on an album with Erik Vermeulen, and ten years ago he was President of the Belgian Association of Jazz Musicians. However, a good portion of his recent CV is of World Music, or fusion with Slang, but whatever the genre he is clearly an outstanding sax and flute player.
Purbayan Chatterjee is a virtuoso of the Indian sitar who at the age of 15 was awarded India’s “best instrumentalist” prize. With over a dozen albums to his name and classical, jazz and world music concert appearances all over the world, his sitar is one of the driving forces of this album. If you find one of the youtube videos you’ll see that the sitar is pushed through a pedal board like a rock guitar allowing all sorts of interesting effects.
The album consists of three long tracks – each over 10 minutes long, plus two shorter ones. All of them transition between styles moving from raga to jazz to rock and back again. Typically the longer tracks start with a slow drone with flute or sax over background tones. Then the sitar or sax are used to build the pace and tension. The opening track Karmasutra features a particularly fine soprano solo.
The title track opens with an Indian flute over Sitar with a gentle raga like feel and then the sitar builds the intensity with a very western sounding melody – until the flute comes back with a very jazzy solo. But then Chatterjee comes back with a few minutes of incredibly fast tabla syllables over a bass accompaniment (those are formal spoken “words” indicating drum sounds).
UK release date is April 15th. This is an album I can highly recommend for its fine fusion of rock, jazz and Indian music.