a South Indian word for melodic ornamentation. Its also the name
of the latest album from alto saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa,
one of the most innovative musicians on the jazz scene. Combining hard-edge
jazz with traditional Indian and Middle Eastern themes, he shows that
East and West can indeed meet, in a complex but fresh-sounding way.
In a typical tune like Abhogi, Mahanthappa and his fellow-musicians (David
Fiucznski, guitar; Francois Moutin, bass; and Dan Weiss, drums), start
off in warm, bluesy fashion, then segue into an ethereal, strangely-beautiful
passage based on an Indian raga, only to suddenly shift gears again and
play with red-hot intensity and power.
It goes on like that for the entire album, with stylized Eastern tunes
suddenly erupting with volcanic Western force. The result is challenging
contemporary music played with team-work and virtuosity.