In the beginning was the Big Bang. In Hindi, you would translate that as Bada (Big) Boom (Bang). And that is the name of Indian drummer Ranjit Barot’s debut fusion jazz album, Bada Boom.
Playfulness dances with the serious as shadow with light on this album. The in-joke title which also rings with a very slangy Americanism, bada boom, the sort of expression you’d expect to hear Tony Soprano use on one of his better days, suggests Barot has a sense of humor. But take a look at the titles of this album, Dark Matter, Singularity, T=O, Supernova and Origin and you know his sense of purpose is anything but light hearted.
To assist him making his point, Barot, a Gujarat-born drummer extraordinaire with scads of experience of arranging and composing music for the Mumbai film industry, calls upon a galactic range of artists from Carnatic drummers, Hindustani singers, British guitar whizzes (John McLaughlin), and Turkish instrumentalists. This is serious coalition-building but the music is playful, exciting and in your face. Not the sort of stuff your usual classically trained musician would regularly perform.
And while I must admit to difficulty in appreciating fusion-jazz I have to say this is an enjoyable effort. His strengths as a creative arranger and alchemist of a variety of seemingly contradictory styles and approaches to music-making is obvious. Like his pal A.R. Rahman, Ranjit Barot has an acute and sophisticated musical mind.
This is dense (in the sense of mightily full) music; there is LOTS going on in each track. Seering glistening guitar fancies to bansuri interludes and Carnatic singing. And of course lots of excellent, exciting drumming. Barot took to the western drum kit as a youngster and has become an exceptional master of instrument. He drives, leads, pushes and booms his way through this record, very much the leader of the multi-ring circus.
Bada Boom, indeed. This is big booming music. And it is also an equally compelling entry onto the stage as the creation of the universe.
Good on ya Ranjit.
02 T = 0
05 Dark Matter