As impressive as the Western classicalist canon is, India can match it in its Carnatic tradition, perhaps the most jaw-dropping mode in the world. In concert, I've seen Srinivas, the Hyderabad Brothers, and other astonishing musicians in concert and…my God, no wonder John McLaughlin fashioned Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti in the style! Remember the old Yehudi Menuhin / Ravi Shankar masterpieces? Ever sat down to be astonished by the unbelievable Shankar performance at Monterey, a pyrotechnic display that left even Jimi Hendrix gasping? That's what I'm talking about.
This CD, however, presents the mellower side of Indian musical traditions blended with myriad world influences, as the Putumayo label's forte is not in the arena of head-spinning dexterities but has always favored the lushly melodic, and thank goodness, as they've become one of the best labels extent due to just that, deftly bringing the exotica of far-flung shores to everyone's doorstep in soothingly entrancing waves of pure pleasure. India is much more in the sensual aspect of such as the ghazal mode, and, as usual, every single aspect of the presentation is impeccable. The generous booklet accompanying the CD backgrounds each musician in the English, Spanish, and French tongues, and the tracks explore the mellower sides of the santoor, bansuri, and veena as well as more East/West instruments (guitar, violin, etc.). The vocals are all in the native tongue, as is so frequently the case with Putumayo CDs, preserving original musics completely without making unnecessary concessions—this isn't opera, after all.
A.R. Rahman & Chinmayee's Tere Bina is a beautiful cut much in the Peter Gabriel mode, loping with lush pastorality in folk rhythms constantly gently morphing to build the sonics. Satish Vyas' Homeward Journey goes a lot further to bring the santoor to populist ears than, say, Deuter's past efforts. Then Deepak Ram urges the bansuri into a lark's flight grounded by accompanying guitar so that a canvas of earth and air lays itself out. The tablas remind the listener of the origins of the composer as do the non-Western slurs and side improvs. Each cut, as with every Putumayo release, is engineered for absolute perfection and misses not the slightest inflection while capturing every atom of warmth and elan.
"Guaranteed to make you feel good!" is the Putumayo mission statement and that's exactly what occurs with each release, this one no less than all the others. Bombay Jayashri's opening cut, Zara Zara, was a Bollywood hit and small wonder. Her enticing voice intones lyrics that say:
Today my body is becoming a little intoxicated
…in a fashion that suggests the Song of Solomon or the Rubaiyat, though one hardly needs the ancient customs of tradition to understand the alluring sentiment. And this is only the beginning to a disc that ceaselessly reinforces an aura of superior art and luxurious enjoyment.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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