Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Autorickshaw - Four Higher

For most Americans, Canada may be the 51st state, the upstairs neighbour to a really great party, and that place where the drinking age is 19. I know – I live here. But something that Canada might not be appreciated enough for – an incredible musical soundscape, which produces unique artists and innovative sounds.

This is Autorickshaw – made of Suba Sankaran, vocals, Ed Hanley, tabla, Rich Brown, bass, and Debashis Sinha, drums. The term indo-jazz fusion isn’t quite complete for what this Toronto based band does, since there has been plenty of fusion of Indian music and jazz – the improvisatory nature of the forms works well together. This is something new, and different – covering many influences but retaining it’s own singular identity.

The tracks are a variety – original compositions mixed with jazz standards rediscovered in Autorickshaw’s style. Caravan is a personal favorite, with an incredibly groove bringing the real rolling of the dunes to the tune. Of the originals, Saraswati, dedicated to the goddess of the arts, starts off with a moving bass line from Brown, and then is mirrored in a swaying vocal and tabla – it makes you close your eyes to be enveloped in it’s richness.

The band has been gaining a lot of ground in Canada over the last year, but the album was just released stateside in October, and the band will be traveling to New York in the coming months for the International Association of Jazz Educators conference. Hopefully this will mark the first of many appearances south of the border.

(same post on blogcritics.org)

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