You can click on the song title to listen to audio sample of the track.
John McLaughlinâ€™s sole offering for his mentee happens in this blistering opening track, which sees some splendid Carnatic-jazz fusion â€“ the jazz part handled by the guitar maestro and Harmeet Kaur on keyboards, while the carnatic part is Punya Srinivasâ€™s show on the veena, Ranjit Barot pitching in with some vocal scatting. A major part of the song belongs to the duel between Harmeet and Punya, Punya exhibiting an amazing mastery over the instrument, effortlessly traversing ragas (wondering if it is Nalinakanthi/Kadanakuthuhalam at 2:04) in her solo. McLaughlin proves with his closing section that he has not lost his touch one bit. Not to be understated in any manner is Matthew Garrisonâ€™s contribution on the bass guitar.
Starting with a sedate rendition of the Malayalam lullaby Omana Thingal Kidaavo on flute by Palakkad Sreeram with a fitting backing by Amit Heri on the acoustic guitar, the song then moves on to a slightly sinister mode, highlighted by a display of awesomeness from Mandolin Rajesh, Dominique DiPiazza, Tim Garland and Marc Guillermont in that order. Oh, and the inimitable Pete Lockettâ€™s percussion.
For a song dedicated to the jazz legend, Revolutions has less jazz than the previous tracks, restricted to the initial background and the end portion. But that does not prevent the song from being an absolute stunner, starting with a blissful nadaswaram solo by Thiru Murthy leading onto some amazing classical vocals by Vignesh Ishwar (starting in a raga that sounds quite like Kedaram, except that some swaras are missing). And from then on the stage is taken over by Taufiq Qureshi, Ranjit Barot and Sridhar Parthasarathy in a three-way percussive jugalbandhi fusing folk, classical and western percussion in a mind-blowing manner. And things are closed off in style with a spectacular chorus.
In recent times there have been three tribute songs to Ustad Alla Rakha, one by Sivamani in his Mahaleela, one by Mclaughlin in Floating Point and now this. And I have liked this the best, as I feel the melancholy most dominant in this one, Ranjit Barot choosing a perfectly heart-tugging raga (Charukeshi I believe) for Mandolin Srinivas to work his magic on with ample support from Zakir Hussain. The downbeat mode does get diluted in between during Tim Garlandâ€™s jazz sax portions, but Srinivas returns towards the end along with Chandana Bala on the vocals to provide a brilliant closure to the song.
This song sees the entry of two more artists, Blue Frog man Dhruv Ghanekar on the guitar and Mohini Dey on the bass. A word about the bassist, Mohini Dey has already been making waves in the fusion world by performing with the likes of Zakir Hussain. And this, at an age of 12! Here is a video that will give you an idea of what the young lady is capable of (do watch the part after 7:00). Dark Matter, however, is less about them and more about Harmeet Manseta and Gwilyn Symcock on the piano, Tim Garland on the sax and Palakkad Sreeram with a neat classical rendition in a mix of ragas (I felt there was a touch of Jog somewhere).
This is the only ordinary-sounding track of the lot with its dominant pop elements, and for that reason, my least favorite. But that said, this song too has to be listened out for its show of individual brilliance, like Kirti Sagathiaâ€™s vocals, Wayne Krantzâ€™s addictive guitar riffs and Scott Kinseyâ€™s work on the keyboards. Not the ideal track to close such a wonderful album, though given the other five tracks this is but a quibble.
Bada Boom is a truly spectacular debut album from Ranjit Barot, a long-overdue promotion from arranger to composer carried out in style. And a fitting tribute to his mentors John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain.
You can buy the album here
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