Brooklyn Raga Massive — Terry Riley In C
(Northern Spy NS094, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-11-11
Brooklyn Raga Massive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to artists who both preserve and advance the music of India, often staging performances combining musicians of different backgrounds. They’ve done interpretations of John and Alice Coltrane’s music, Cuban music, Ravi Shankar’s music, and so on. The recording at hand documents a creative adaptation of Terry Riley’s famous piece “In C.” The ensemble consists of more than a dozen musicians, including Indian instruments (tabla, sitar, bansuri), Western instruments (violin, cello, upright bass, guitar, hammered dulcimer, trumpet), vocalists, and other instruments (oud, latin percussion). Riley’s concept for the piece consists of 53 cells, short motifs in the key of C, which can be performed on any instruments, and are to be repeated at the musicians’ own discretion. Improvisation based on the patterns was encouraged. BRM begins this set with a brief piece called “Raga Bihag Alap” to get us in the mood, then launches into “In C.” Throughout the performance, tablas provide a cheerful propulsion, setting a brisk tempo that varies in feel over the course of the piece. At times, various of the instruments will take up simple droning roles as others come to the fore with the cells. This is a composition that is bound to be different for every performance — it’s designed that way — but you could say BRM’s version is more different than usual. The combination of instruments is fascinating, and as the piece ebbs and flows, different sounds draw attention, contribute a bit, then cycle out to make room of other voices. For anyone who’s a fan of Riley’s music or of Indian music, this recording should be a winner, a worthy entry in the growing set of interpretations of this piece.
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more