feast from Re-Orient with Baluji Shrivastav, this
time featuring as very special guests the legendary musicians
Andy Sheppard, Guy Barker and Hossam Ramzy. This
album features some of Baluji's longer and more complex
pieces plus the usual exotic pieces from the band.
"It's the work of master musicians and it is fun
and engaging." - Rootsworld
album started life as a solo Baluji Shrivastav album. He'd
built up some tracks over time at his home studio including
guests Andy Sheppard and Hossam Ramzy.
Then the record label decided late in the day to make it
another Re-Orient album so Chris Conway came down to a studio
in London for a couple of days bringing one piece (The Seven
Wonders) and a improvising idea (Watercolour) and adding
some music to tracks already recorded. Guy Barker joined
at this stage as a guest as well. Linda introduced a song
(Fruit) and they added a tune by Linda & Baluji's daughter
Due to the way the album started out (as a Baluji solo album)
there is inevitably less of a band feeling here than on
previous Re-Orient albums - CC only apears on 5 tracks and Linda on 6. So the result is nether fully a Baluji
solo album, nor quite a Re-Orient album. There is much excellent
music here though and fans of Baluji's pieces on the other
albums will find much here to enjoy. Also it is a pleasure
to hear the excellent guests play with Baluji head to head.
Jai Uttal, Ila Arun, Flora Purim, Oregon, Indian and Arabic
folk musics, Okay Temiz.
1, 2, 3, 6, 9 - by Baluji Shrivastav
5 by Chris Conway
7 by Linda Shanovitch
4 by Leela
8 by Chris Conway, Linda Shanovitch, Baluji Shrivastav
to the high profile guests on the album, it did receive
quite a bit of notice in the music press.
When Guy Barker recorded his session he packed up his
trumpet and took a tube train to play with Georgie Fame
at Ronnie Scotts club.
Re-Orient have been going for two full decades now with their jazz-Indian hybrid, refining it over the course of several albums to the point where it's most definitely natural, and works very well, both rhythmically and melodically. It's adventurous at times, as with the lengthy "Portrait of a Swan," and can also be lulling and loving, as they prove on "Dangerous Ground," revisiting the first song they recorded together, taking it into bossa nova ground -- but even there they manage to put in something edgy. That they're accomplished is beyond question, with a deep knowledge and love of Indian music -- the konnakol mouth percussion of "Celebration" shows much of that, embedded into a sprightly, happy piece. On the tunes where they do stretch out, like "Tides," they create some gorgeous textures, and have a chance to exploit the possibilities of the instruments and fusion. Let's hope they have another 20 years together. - Chris Nickson
Sitar and tabla drums are key to most of the music here
and thus it's a good thing that Baluji Shrivastav is a
whiz on both. He's also skilled on a number of other Indian
instruments, and what's more, he's got a knack for combining
them with some freewheeling jazz and global textures.
The results can sound fairly traditional or, as on this
album's "Pharaoh's Dream" and "Taal Manjari-
Flowering of Rhythm," get techno enough to show that
Shrivastav and his mates in Re-Orient are progressive
minded as well. As with much Indian-based music, there
is a lot of rhythmic and melodic complexity here. What
keeps it from becoming too stuffy and intimidating is
the spark and ease with which additions such as Hossam
Ramzy's Egyptian percussion and Guy Barker's trumpet are
brought on board.
Though at times the tracks twist and turn a little too
much and overstay their welcome, pieces like the slinky
finale "Spirit of Joy" make the trip worthwhile.
When you're feeling burnt out on bhangra or Bollywood,
give this other kind of Indian fusion a try. It's the
work of master musicians and it is fun and engaging. -