on November 19, 2011
This quintet album, the title of which means "Twilight", saw the light of the day after a three-year hybernation, as it was originally recorded October 9, 2008. "I was particularly interested in examining a few melodic and rhythmic aspects of South Indian music in greater detail. I was also fascinated by the vast array of sounds and beats coming out of the electronic music and hip-hop worlds...Essentially, I wished to contemplate my own past with the hopes of creating something new," the Indo-American saxophonist writes in the liner notes.
The band also includes guitarist David Gilmore, who should not be confused with the one of P. Floyd fame, an impressive and tight rhythm section made up of bass guitarist Rich Brown and drummer Damion Reid, and Indian percussionist Anantha Krishnan on mridangam and kanjira.
Among the more ambitious compositions we find the boisterous, fast tempo #2 'killer', with Mahanthappa introducing his computer enhanced alto sound and a jagged, restless solo from Gilmore; the exotic and meandering #4 'playing with stones'; the playful medley of styles (funk, swing, bebop) exhibited on #6 'breakfastlunchanddinner'; the slightly poignant #8 'ahhh' which is off to a lazy start that shifts to a higher gear once Gilmore takes the center stage with his searing improv., followed by a fiery sax boost; and the dense, circular themed #10 'still-gas' with a pinch of eeriness, featuring a nasty, chop-heavy jazz-rock guitar solo.
We also have sax interludes like the serene #1 'parakram 1' ("advance, courage"?) and #11 'for my lady' in the mould of the Norwegian saxist Jan Garbarek (elsewhere Mahanthappa's timbre reminds me that of David Sanborn, who is listed among the bandleader's major influences), plus the electronica infused experimental #7 'parakram 2'. The short tune #3 'Richard's game' has the bass guitarist running an exotic melody of muffled notes; while on the brief yet glowing #5 'rune' Gilmore elects, quite inexplicably, to douse the fire when it is about to burn at full flame; whereas #9 'meeting of skins' is a percussion fest of Reid and Krishnan. The set closes with the sentimental waltz #12 'for all the ladies' where Gilmore's approach and solo are vaguely reminescent those of Jeff Richman.
At the end of the day, however, it will be you who decides how appealing and/or accessible this melding of elements of Carnatic music with '80s inspired jazz-rock has turned out to be. Total time: 65.21 min.