Friday, November 29, 2013

NYT Review of Sachal Jazz Ensemble at the Lincoln Center

by Salman Hameed


A while ago, I had posted a video of jazz classic Take Five by Lahore based Sachal Studio. Their jazz arrangements include sitar, tabla and flute and gives it a South Asian flavor. Just this past Friday and Saturday, seven musicians from Sachal Jazz Ensemble joined the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a joint performance. Here is the review from NYT:
 Mr. Marsalis is tireless, and very effective, in explaining the connections between different kinds of music around the world. In this concert he leaned hard on the idea of the habanera rhythm — common in one way or another in African, Antillean and new-world popular music — being one of those affinities. And so the two ensembles piled in on Morton’s “New Orleans Blues,” arranged by Victor Goines, of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and they figured out a way to build the habanera rhythm together. 
The Pakistani musicians, on the left, played on the beat with precision and intent; the Americans, on the right, played behind it. But there was enough flexibility and amassed sound to approximate something like the rolling feeling of swing. 
One of the ways to use your ears in Saturday night’s concert was to notice when and how well each side bent toward the other. The orchestra’s drummer, Ali Jackson, getting light and quiet on his instrument and listening hard, was all-important to the process. But so was the Pakistani flutist Baqar Abbas, the Sachal Jazz Ensemble’s clearest and most house-wrecking virtuoso, who bent and warped notes as an absolute matter of course rather than for effect. In one of the concert’s best stretches, he traded solos with Ted Nash, from the orchestra, playing piccolo. 
They got around to “Take Five,” a song with another linking agent — its five-beat rhythm cycle, fairly common in Carnatic and Hindustani music. In a solo, the sitarist Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury stretched out in his own technique in a more jazzlike melodic improvisation. The technique was exact and contained, the tempo stately enough that every note could be heard.
Read the full review here.         

I haven't seen good quality footage from this particular event, but here is Wynton Marsalis Quintet with Sachal Jazz Ensemble performing "Rythmesque" at Marciac festival a few months ago: 



And once again, here is the video of their fantastic version of Take Five:



And if you want to move in the direction of R.E.M, here is Sachal Studios' take on Everybody Hurts (here is the original):

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