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278: The Danish String Quartet, ‘Sønderho Bridal Trilogy – Part II’/Dreamers’ Circus, ‘Kitchen Stories’

Posted by jeff on Feb 9, 2018 in Classical, New Acoustic, Nordic, Song Of the week

Spring is here, even though it’s still February. My head is crunching and comparing and contrasting and generally consternating itself, but my heart is a-flitting and a-fluttering like a 17-year old girl in the throes of first love. For I have discovered joyous new music that makes me bounce and grin and tap my feet; and, gosh and b’golly, wish there were a Danish country dance floor for me to get out onto and jig and reel and polsk like a Danish country fool.

And you know what kind of music it is? It’s – I’m asking politely. No, I’m begging: Please read this paragraph through to the end – a Danish classical string quartet playing Nordic roots music. Now I know you may well have no great interest in roots music; no vested interest in Danish music; and no significant interest in a young string quartet. All I’m asking is that you listen. Because it’s passionate, human, engaging, irresistible, ebullient, and you can’t help but love it.

Danish String Quartet – ‘Gammel Reinlender fra Sønndala’

Dreamer’s Circus – ‘A Room in Paris’

Did you notice the same violinist in both groups?
Two hours after Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen was born in 1983 in a small Danish village, his parents (who had met on the folk-dance floor) brought in a traditional fiddler to play for the swaddler, to welcome him to the world in a properly harmonious way.

The Danish String Quartet

“The three of us [Rune, violin; Frederik Øland, violin; Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola] met very early in our lives in the Danish countryside at a summer camp for enthusiastic amateur musicians. Not yet teenagers, we were the youngest players, so we hung out all the time playing football and chamber music together. During the regular school year we would get together often to play music and just have fun… All of the sudden, at the ages of 15 and 16, we were a serious string quartet. It all happened so fast that none of us seemed to notice the transition.”

The three drafted Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, a Norwegian cellist, and their career was off and running, despite the violinists’ full-time gig in the Copenhagen Philharmonic (where Rune was concertmaster!). They played the whole classical string quartet repertoire, Haydn and Beethoven and Shostakovitch, as well as the Danish composer Carl Nielsen (d. 1931). In 2013, the violinists left CPH:Phil to concentrate on The Danish String Quartet, which was busy touring worldwide and winning awards and whatnot.

But they’re not just ‘a covers band’, as Rune calls them. Almost from the beginning, DSQ would play as an encore traditional Scandinavian folk music they had arranged for the string quartet. They could do it sitting or standing on a formal concert stage.

But watch what happens when they let their proverbial hair down (of course, their very shaggy demeanor is part and parcel of their utter charm), lose the suits and don the Plastic Man t-shirts in this NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

These guys aren’t just charming. And not just tighter than tight. And not just ridiculously good-looking. They’re playing music. It matters to me not a whit that it’s couched in a style far from what I grew up with. It’s human beings playing joyous human music.

DSQ has two fine CDs, “Wood Works” (2014) and “Last Leaf” (2017, ECM). They’re both rich, exciting, fun, exultant. I feel lucky to have discovered them.

Roots, Americana Newgrass

I wouldn’t want to have to take a blindfold test on distinguishing between some of the Nordic, Celtic and American roots music I listen to. I’ve asked more than a couple of Scandinavian professionals involved in this style about the affinity of Nordic to Celtic roots music. They all say, as if they were thinking of it for the first time, “Yeah, they do sound very similar, you know?”

It turns out that roots are roots, and it seems there is some sort of border-defying musical collective unconscious operating here.

DSQ’s roots music begs comparison with the whole burgeoning world of Americana roots music (aka Newgrass). Check out, for example, “Appalachia Waltz“, a fine album by Mark O’Conner, Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer. Or this Newgrass all-star team Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan, playing their own NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

It’s fine, admirable music. Copelandean, as they would probably like to be called. I love the attitude and the gender-bending and the virtuosity. I’ve admired it for quite a while now, keep going back to it—and keep leaving, unsatisfied.

They just don’t got the voltage. Listen to the DSQ playing this original traditional-styled tune ‘Shine You No More’. I don’t know about you, but that gets my pulse racing.

Dreamers’ Circus 

But that’s only half the story.

“We met by chance one night in 2009 during a folk festival in Copenhagen. Ale [on cittern, a traditional 10-stringed mandolin/bouzouki-ish instrument] and Rune were standing in the corner of a pub jamming some folk tunes. Nikolaj just came in, sat at the piano and began to play along. The three of us ended up playing together all through the night.”

Did you watch ‘A Room in Paris’? Wow. How can you not love that?

Want more? Check out the second half of this one, from 3’35”

And check out ‘Carrousel Prime’, the encore from that same festival. These guys are so much sexier, more charismatic, more fun than anything else I’ve seen in a long, long time.

See where Rune starts dancing? That’s not a Mick Jagger look-at-me dance, that the very human dance impulse, rising from the roots of many generations dancing the same dances to the same tunes.

And they also did a series of knockout concerts with CPH:Phil. They even present Mozart in Folk Style, roots trio + classical orchestra. Sounds a bit far-fetched? Just watch it. Want some more of this? Here’s ‘Prelude to the Sun’, a Nordic folk remix of Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, Preludio, ‘recomposed’ by Dreamers’ Circus.

Dreamers’ Circus – ‘Father Into It’

Dreamers’ Circus – ‘Fragments of Solbyn’. This ain’t no casual jig. It’s classical in form, Saturday night roadside bar for enthusiasm.

You think they only know how to rock? Check out the elegance and intelligence and utterly refined Danish aesthetic in ‘City Gardens’.

Check out their wonderful album “Second Movement”.

Rune, DSQ, DC and Old Stories Told Anew

Dreamers’ Circus has this amazing tonal blend, and they’re playing very tightly. I struggle (gleefully) to pick out which instrument is playing which note. It’s a pleasure I experienced with Crosby, Stills & Nash’s first album.

Rune: “In DSQ there are four stringed instruments of same nature. When it really works, you can achieve one single voice. I brought that same mindset to Dreamers’ Circus. The violin has a great range of the types of sounds it can make. It’s primarily a melodic instrument, but it can also be percussive. The cittern is usually driving the rhythm, but we try not to lock ourselves into these roles. When I play with accordion, I’m very conscious of when I try to blend and when I try to stick out. You give focus and you take focus; sometimes you shadow, sometimes you solo. We’re striving towards an ideal of a unified voice. Before we go on stage, we remind ourselves: One voice, one story, one message, one instrument. That’s the way to convey a story.”

Every summer Rune goes to Sønderhø on Fanø island, with 3345 residents and 100 traditional local songs going back hundreds of years, almost all in D major or G major (only one in a minor key!). He dances, smokes a pipe and plays music. Sounds pretty hygge to me.

Why does the music of the Danish String Quartet and Dreamers’ Circus speak to me? Who can say why a piece of music speaks to you? Or what it’s saying, for that matter? But it does. Clearly, passionately, directly. From the roots up.

Thanks to Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog post.

If you enjoyed this posting, you may also like SoTW 071: Lyy, ‘Giftavisan’, an overview of Nordic roots bands from a few years ago.

 

 

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276: Leo Kottke, ‘Eggtooth’ (New Acoustic)

Posted by jeff on Dec 29, 2017 in New Acoustic, Song Of the week

Leo Kottke – ‘Even His Feet Look Sad’

Bert Jansch & John Renbourn – ‘Tic-Tocative’

Andy McKee & Don Ross – ‘The Thing That Came from Somewhere’

This week we’re going to try to sketch a portrait of a nebula of music–call it a style or a genre or whatever you like–that for the sake of convenience you can call it New Acoustic.

Or Fingerpicking. Or American Primitive. Or Folk Baroque. It’s been going on for threescore years, but still has no clearly defined history or borders (born in the early 1960s more or less simultaneously in the US and in the UK, with  almost no cross-pollination). Or even a name for heaven’s sake!

It even has a first cousin it’s easily confused with, Newgrass (Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, Mike Marshall, Edgar Meyer, as well as frequent visitors such as Jerry Garcia, Yo Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor and Dave Grisman).

Paul Simon, UK, 1965

Perhaps it’s best to explain New Acoustic by two examples that you probably know.
Remember Paul Simon’s guitar solo ‘Anji’ from the “Sounds of Silence” album?
Oh, I loved that song.
Remember Pentangle?
Oh, I loved Pentangle.
They’re New Acoustic.

But the whole thing is as hard to grab hold of as a passle of melted jello on a Georgia highway in the middle of a highway in the middle of the day in the middle of July. So anything I say here is based on the most superficial, off-the-cuff, unfounded lack of knowledge you can imagine. Just picture me on that Georgia highway trying to pick up the jello.

There’s tons and tons of all this stuff, so I’m just going to give you a link or two for each of the gents here. For a change, nothing exhaustive. You’ll have to do the legwork yourselves.

What can we say about it? Well, to a great degree it’s intelligent and sophisticated. virtuosic instrumental music (sans vocals), fingerpicked on a 6-string steel string guitar (or 12-string, or banjo), using old blues and country technique, often with open tuning, infused with influences from far abroad, such as Indian ragas.

Leo Kottke

Early US Fingerpicking

John Fahey (1939-2001) was a key figure “the first to demonstrate that the finger-picking techniques of traditional country and blues steel-string guitar could be used to express a world of non-traditional musical ideas — harmonies and melodies you’d associate with Bartok, Charles Ives, or maybe the music of India.” Here’s ‘Poor Boy Long Ways from Home’ from his seminal 1964 album “The Legend of Blind Joe Death”. Fahey established Takoma Records in the early 1960s, which kickstarted the careers of fingerpicking disciples Leo Kottke and Robbie Basho.

Leo Kottke (1945-) is perhaps the best-known card-carrying representative of New Acoustic. Despite near deafness and an insistence on staining his performances with vocals (which he acutely describes as “geese farts on a muggy day”), he’s had a long and fruitful career. If you’re interested in delving into this morass, Kottke’s probably the best place to start. I find him impressive, enjoyable, entertaining. I’d gladly go see him perform. Start with the 1971 “6 and 12 String Guitar”. But be sure you get to his brilliant, bizarre, hilarious rambling monologs.

 

Robbie Basho

Robbie Basho (1940-1986) is understandably less well-known than Kottke and Fahey, darker and more challenging. ‘Haunting’ is his epithet. Check out ‘Song of the Stallion’– somewhere between those two disparate Johnsons, Antony and the-, and Blind Willie. With a little bit of Shlomo Carlebach thrown in. A genuinely riveting weirdo.

Sandy Bull (1941-2001) was the subject of a very recent Song of The Week, and all the enthusiastic responses to it encouraged me to try to slop all this melted jello into a box. Sandy is even less well known than Basho, to whom he’s often compared. Because he’s even further down the garden path. Which is of course why I love him so.

Meanwhile, back in the Old Country—

Bert Jansch, John Renbourn

Early UK Fingerpicking

Davey Graham (1940-2008), shared with Basho and Bull a background in folk/blues and the eagerness of the ’60s psychedelic rockers to stretch out and incorporate unpredictable influences into his music. In 1961 he composed ‘Anji’, (covered by Bert Jansch in 1965 as ‘Angie’ and famously by Paul Simon in 1966).

Bert Jansch (1943-2011) is probably the best-known habitué of the New Acoustic world. Coming from a Scottish/English folk background, inspired by Graham, he in turn had a profound influence on people such as John Renbourn, Donovan, Paul Simon, Jimmy Page and Neil Young, who said that Jansch did for the acoustic guitar what Hendrix did for the electric. As with Kottke and many others, we usually try to avoid his vocals (‘Needle of Death’). He’s perhaps best known for leading Pentangle, together with his buddy John Renbourn. My personal favorite of Jansch is his uncategorizable, atypical 1979 LP, “Avocet”, one of my most listened-to albums over the years.

John Renbourn (1944-2015) began as a soloist, made a mark in pairings with Jansch in “Bert and John” (‘East Wind’), before they went on to form—

Pentangle, an acoustic folk-jazz ensemble with Jansch and Renbourn on acoustic guitars, Jacqui McShee in waifish vocals, the wonderful Danny Thompson on double bass and Tony Cox on drums. Almost everyone I know seems to have listened to them frequently in college.

And that just gets us up to 1968.

 

Duck Baker

And Then…

There have been generations of young explorers from Australia to Zimbabwe who can pick more notes than the number of ants on a Tennessee anthill. I’ve far from mastered this list, but I’ll try to give you a few quick pointers:

John Martyn (1948-2009) – a major artist, not strictly of this school, but employing with great success in his own unique singer-songwriter style. Much recommended. SoTW 166

Duck Baker (b. 1949) – a quirky favorite of mine, he recorded an entire album of the music of Herbie Nichols, the greatest unknown jazz pianist of the 1950s. SoTW 91. That’s the kind of cosmic synchronicity that gives me a warm, gooey feeling.

Andy McKee

Phil Keaggy and Mike Pachelli (both b. 1951)

Dave Evans (b. 1953) – “Sad Pig Dance” is one fine album.

Tommy Emmanuel (b. 1955)

Brooks Williams (b. 1958) – likened to James Taylor, which ain’t a bad thing

Don Ross (b. 1960)

Jack Rose (1971)

Andy McKee (b. 1979) – new age wiz, 56 million hits on this little gem

James Blackshaw (b. 1981)

Those fingers just keep picking. I haven’t found enough meat on the bones of those fingers to delve into this ocean obsessively and exhaustively, as is my wont. With the possible exception of Sandy Bull (and of course John Martyn), I’ve never found it to be life-changing music. Entertainment, rather than High Art. But I do keep returning to it. I hope you find it appealing. If you find anything indispensable, do let me know.

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275: Sandy Bull, ‘Blend’

Posted by jeff on Dec 15, 2017 in New Acoustic, Song Of the week

Sandy Bull – ‘Blend’ (part 1)

Sandy Bull – ‘Blend’ (part 2)

I don’t know how many readers of this blog are geeks on the musical spectrum and how many are “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it” fans. This week we’re going to indulge in sharing a bizarre, wonderful world-music harbinger, psychedelic groundbreaking fingerpicking guitarist I’ve been listening to for years now, Sandy Bull (1941-2001).

Betcha you’ve never heard of Sandy Bull.
Betcha if I tell you he’s a folk-era world music fingerpicker bridging the Kingston Trio and Ornette Coleman, you just click the little X and go play mini-golf.
Betcha if you listen to him a bit you’ll really like him. Because if you’re following this blog, that means music is more for you than tinting the silence.

Sandy was parented by Harry (editor-in-chief of Town & Country) and Daphne (banking heiress cum jazz harpist). They divorced soon after he was born.
By 12 he had developed a habit for cough syrup.
By 15 he had taken up banjo, inspired by a Pete Seeger concert he heard in school, eventually studying under Erik Darling of The Weavers.
By 18 he had shot heroin with jazz musicians and been arrested for trying to rob a pharmacy.
By 19 (1960), he was playing the Cambridge folk scene with the likes of Joan Baez and coming under the sway of free jazz (via Ornette Coleman), Indian music (via Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan),
By 20 he was playing atonal banjo and guitar on the Greenwich Village folk circuit (before the arrival of Bob Dylan) and including a bagpipe segment in his set.

Hamza el Din

By 21, he was busking in Europe and coming under the sway of Nubian (southern Egypt) composer and oudist Hamza el Din (who later collaborated with the likes of Steve Reich and The Grateful Dead).

By 23 he had recorded his two albums of note, fingerpicking on acoustic guitar, banjo, electric guitar, oud, electric bass and foot cymbal. Oh, and tape recorder. Not just double-tracking in the studio, like other folks. He even appeared live on stage in tandem with his recorded self.
This is at the time when the rest of the world was listening to Tom Dooley, Twist and Shout, Baby Love and FunFunFun, not to mention The Sound of Music and Al Hirt (“Honey in the Horn” was the second best-selling album of the year.)

Billy Higgins

Musically, it was a mash of acoustic fingerpicking (a la Leo Kottke and John Fahey) and a veritable UN of musical inspirations (especially Indian and Arabic), utilizing modal open tunings which enable his deep involvement in the ‘drone’. Not those cool little flying vehicles, but an unchanging, continuous low note. Sandy: ”It is so simple an effect and yet there is something eternal about it, sort of a foundation of music. I find it–and the kind of undulating rhythms which go with it–very moving.”

Undulating it is, not to mention seriously entrancing and hypnotic. Many people (ok, that’s an overstatement—all of the very few sources I’ve found) have credited Mr. Bull with being a seminal originator of psychedelic music.

But what really got me hooked on Sandy was the eclecticism of these two albums. They are comprised of  two extended head trips accompanied by a jazz drummer, and pieces by or inspired by Carl Orff (contemporary classical), William Byrd (Renaissance), Scottish/Southern mountain folk, Ray Charles/Pops Staples, Bach, Louis Bonfa, 14th century Guilliaume de Machaut and Chuck Berry. Now, that’s eclectic.

1963 – “Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo”

‘Fantasia’ is a technical term from classical music, referring to a piece whose structure is a creation of the composer, rather than adhering to an accepted convention. Five ‘easy’ pieces:

  • ‘Blend’ (acoustic guitar and drums)– his pièce de résistance; a riveting 22-minute trip, the drone produced by a banjo-style open tuning (which he changes at about 9:40), accompanied by free jazz stalwart Billy Higgins. Part 1, Part 2.
  • ‘Carmina Burana Fantasy’ (banjo) – Bull’s “impression” of Orff’s popular and influential 1936 cantata, embraced by the Nazi regime. The American denazification authorities eventually changed his previous category of “gray unacceptable” to “gray acceptable”.
  • ‘Non nabis Domine’ (banjo, banjo and acoustic guitar overdubbed) – composed by William Byrd, a contemporary of Shakespeare
  • ‘Little Maggie’ (banjo) – a Southern mountain standard. The Scottish (think bagpipe) drone first cousin of the Arab and Indian music Bull was immersed in.
  • ‘Gospel Tune’ (Fender electric guitar, foot cymbal) – based on the Staples’ ‘Good News’ which was secularized by Ray Charles as ‘I Got a Woman’.

1964 – “Inventions for Guitar and Banjo”

‘Invention’ is the technical term for a short composition (usually for a keyboard instrument) with two-part counterpoint. The six pieces of silver:

  • ‘Blend II’ (acoustic guitar and drums) – a 24-minute sequel to Blend, incorporating (according to Nat Hentoff’s outstanding liner notes) themes from Ornette Coleman, Ali Akbar Khan, Pretty Polly, Lebanese music and North African popular song, and Oum Kalthoum. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
  • Gavotte‘ (electric guitar) – from Bach’s “Suite No. 5” (I was unable to figure out what Suite this is. It’s not the French Suites, not the English Suites, not the Cello Suites and not the Orchestral Suites.)
  • Gavotte‘ (acoustic guitar) – from Bach’s “Suite No. 5”. Bull: “In a sense, it’s kind of a cop-out not to devote your whole musical life to Bach if you want to play his work.”
  • ‘Manha de Carnival’ (rhythm acoustic guitar, Fender bass, lead oud, overdubbed) – composed by Luis Bonfa for the 1959 Brazilian film “Orfeu Negro”, which marked the onslaught of the Bossa Nova craze. Here’s a whole SoTW on that phenomenon.
  • ‘Triple Ballade‘ (oud, banjo, guitar overdubbed) – written in the 14th century by ‘ars nova’ composer Guilliaume de Machaut
  • Memphis, Tennessee’ (rhythm electric guitar, Fender bass, lead electric guitar, drums) – Bull: Chuck Berry “may well be the folk poet of America today”. If you’re looking for prophets, this is years before the apocryphal quote of Dylan regarding Smokie Robinson.

But, heck, de Machaut followed directly by Chuck Berry? You gotta love the guy, even before you listen.

I remember being pleasantly surprised at how many readers reacted so positively to SoTW 092: Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain, ‘Babar’ (“The Melody of Rhythm”), a somewhat analogous indefinable East-West mix (also including Southern mountain fingerpicking elements with Indian and Western Classical music).

C’mon, folks, give it a go. Pour yourself a long one of your choice, kick off your shoes, and give a listen to Blend. And if your partner walks in on you and shries “What the dickens are you listening to???”, just answer, “Oh, that’s Sandy Bull. Betcha you never heard of him.”

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092: Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain, ‘Babar’ (“The Melody of Rhythm”)

Posted by jeff on Apr 19, 2017 in New Acoustic, Other, Song Of the week

Alchemy 101: Take a jazz banjoist, a classical double-bassist and a percussionist of traditional Indian music, mix vigorously, and waddaya get? “The Melody of Rhythm”. Oh, yeah, and if you’re feeling really rambunctious, or perverse, just for fun you can also toss in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of maestro Leonard Slatkin.

Let’s see if we can demystify that, or at least demist it.

Like so many other New York kids, Béla Fleck (b. 1958) got turned onto the banjo by (snore) ‘Dueling Banjos‘ from the film “Deliverance”, where a city slicker plays acoustic guitar behind the front-porch banjo of an Appalachian backwoods idiot savant kid, before the latter’s uncle rapes the city guy just for fun.

That very famous clip is a Hollywoodized taste of bluegrass, which is a folk music from those mountains, popularized in the 1940s and 1950s by Bill Monroe and Earl Flatt & Lester Scruggs. Arising from Scottish-Irish roots, traditional bluegrass is typically based on a small set of acoustic stringed instruments including mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, dobro and upright bass. Note the absence of drums.

In the 1970s and northwards, some stellar musicians such as Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Andy Statman and Tony Rice played a lot of second generation bluegrass. Then in the 1980s a newer aesthetic began to evolve from these roots, progressive bluegrass or ‘newgrass’, led by Mr Fleck himself. These musicians retained the original orchestration of bluegrass, but incorporated a jazz-based musicality, resulting in a wonderfully unclassifiable new sub-genre with its own very loyal cadre of followers and an active festival circuit. Bela’s home base for the past 30 years has been his own band The Flecktones, who have made tons of innovative, marvelous music, but he’s also been involved in heaps of transient projects with a number of recurring partners, one of whom is Edgar Meyer, with whom he’s been fiddling around with for 25 years.

Jazz/classical/newgrass bassist Meyer (b. 1960) hails from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, received his classical training at Indiana, and in 2002 was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, “The Genius Award”, the neatest recognition bestowed on humans. Edgar has recorded in more contexts than would seem possible – Bach’s cello suites on bass; a solo album playing piano, double bass, guitar, banjo, viola da gamba, mandolin and dobro; the Coplandian Grammy-winning “Appalachian Journey” and “Appalachian Waltz”, collaborations with Yo Yo Ma and newgrass fiddler Mark O’Connor, a rarity case of respectable ‘classical crossover’; and several knockout concerti of his own composition recorded with symphony orchestras, one for double bass, one for double bass and cello (played by good old Yo Yo), one for banjo (guess who) and double bass, and a triple concerto for double bass, banjo and tabla that you just might read about below.

Zakir Hussain (Hindi: ज़ाकिर हुसैन, Urdu: ذاکِر حسین, in case you were wondering) was born in 1951 in Mumbai, son of the legendary tabla player Alla Rakha. Zakir was a child prodigy on the tabla, moved to the US in 1970 and began playing with the likes of George Harrison, John McLaughlin, Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, and Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer. This was much to the chagrin of his father, who refused to condone this newfangled stuff until Zakir promised him that he would never stop playing traditional Indian music. I really don’t get what was bugging dad, who had himself appeared alongside Ravi Shankar (Norah Jones’ father) at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals, as well as recording an album with Buddy Rich! But Dad had some stature. Mickey Hart: “Allarakha is the Einstein, the Picasso; he is the highest form of rhythmic development on this planet.” The tabla, for the uninitiated amongst you, “involves extensive use of the fingers and palms in various configurations to create a wide variety of different sounds, reflected in the mnemonic syllables (bol). The heel of the hand is used to apply pressure or in a sliding motion on the larger drum so that the pitch is changed during the sound’s decay.” That may not sound too intriguing, but just listen to how Zakir says it. Convinced, are you?

So these three guys get together in 2009 – sort of like a centaur, a mermaid, and a Toyota Prius in a ménage a trois – and record an album called “The Melody of Rhythm.”

There are nine cuts on the CD, the middle three being the aforementioned Triple Concerto. Thom Jurek, the most effusive music writer around, calls it a “spacious, wide-ranging, beautifully paced concerto with the trio interacting on its own quite intently and with the DSO not as individual instrumentalists, but as a group in dialogue with the orchestra [in a mix of] jazz, Indian folk forms, classical music, Appalachian folk, progressive instrumental music.”

The first and last three pieces on the CD are just our three guys creating something wholly other – unique, transcending taxonomy like nothing else you’ve ever heard, as natural and organic as a single petal of a daisy, unforced, convincing and absolutely lovely. Here you are, our SoTW, ‘Babar’, the first cut from “The Melody of Rhythm”. Indeed.

For your further listening edification:
There are lots of YouTube clips of the trio performing live, all of problematic audio quality. Here’s a nice NPR article on the them with some links of better quality.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these off-beat recommendations:

068: Hermeto Pascoal, ‘Santa Catarina’
063: Pust, ‘En Reell Halling’
030: The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Women’s Choir (Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares) – ‘Pilentze Pee’
003: Garcia/Grisman, ‘So What’

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