Let’s turn our attention for a while to some contemporary South Asian music. Tonight we highlight the Norwegian-Indian jazz combo Indian Core. Kind of a strange name in that it is rather lifeless. What is an Indian core as opposed to a Norwegian or Polish or Punjabi core? Isn’t a core the part of the apple you throw out?
So it was with some reluctance that I bought this CD on a recent trip to India. But I can assure you my hesitancy was not needed. This is a very nice record indeed. The bansuri (bamboo flute) is a prominent feature of the band, which rather unexpectedly is able to maintain its own in the unfamiliar context.
There’s an affinity between Indian classical music and jazz in the musics’ inventiveness, subtlety and sensitivity to tone colour. John Mayer’s Indo-Jazz Fusions showed the way, followed by John McLaughlin, Trilok Gurtu, French band Mukti and many others. Now we have Norwegian quartet the Core, collaborating with guests Kanchman Babbar (flutes), Fateh Ali (sitar) and Prasenjit Mitra (tabla) to make The Indian Core. The CD is drawn from live recordings made during a tour of Norway. Founder-drummer Espen Aalberg drives the ensemble along with an even, flowing style that leaves plenty of space for Mitra’s polyrhythms, and the band generates plenty of heat on stretched-out numbers such as Agra and Ull Raga. The Indian musicians sound at home in this defiantly acoustic nu-jazz, and Babbar’s flute solos are a constant source of pleasure, combining Indian inflections and melodies with a jazzy “sound of surprise”, and a vocalised timbre that springs from both cultures.
02 Punjab Blues