From the one that got away file which was originally released 01/03/12 we find a delightful release from the Marc Rossi Grouo entitled Mantra Revealed. A genuine sleeper in every sense of the word and an incredibly if not imaginative offering from the jazz-Indian fusion movement.
Influences from other continents and cultures is nothing new for jazz with Dave Brubeck's Jazz Impressions of Eurasia or perhaps the most familiar being the Gil Evans classic Sketches of Spain. Rossi examines the Afro-Indian forms and tweaks the functionality with a delightful fusion of both Western and Eastern forms and scales. While not a true jazz collective this release is a captivating look at the possibilities of inventive hybridization when in the hands of an amazingly gifted artist. Rossi is a visionary that would seem to hear the possibilities of this hybrid in ways that others may not as easily discover. Essentially a quartet there is the manipulation of texture that allows this ensemble to transcend their sound to that of a small jazz orchestra.
Opening with "Jazz Impressions of a Kriti" we find a jazz concerto for a performer and big band. While the orchestration is pulled off with amazing skill and a captivating sonic depth of field there is a captivating improvisational back and forth from the more traditional Western to the raga material of the East. "New Beginnings" is a deceptively intricate tune where bassist Bill Urmson gives a two minute masterclass in the form of an incredibly lyrically inventive and harmonically diverse solo. This extended piece draws from the South Indian Kriti form which then expands with a fusion into a more Western oriented modal vamp. Lance Van Lenten is first rate on soprano and the subtle finesse of drummer and percussionist Mauricio Zottarelli simply seal the deal on one of the finer pieces of jazz-Indian fusion you may find floating around cyber-space. Closing with "Feast or Famine" we find a somewhat rousing if not vibrant closer that allows the ensemble to showcase their prolific individuals voices throughout the number as well as the release as a package.
Other have tried various forms of jazz-indian fusion with not near the same accessible result. Rossi has found that special musical happy place that allows Mantra Revealed to push the jazz-Indian fusion envelop that will allow more listeners to embrace the colors and textures available when these two form of music are merged in such a well thought out and cohesive fashion. With Mantra Revealed there is no doubt that Rossi's compositional skills are as solid as they come especially in the arrangements which are brimming with vitality and color but manage to hold an even cultural base so effortlessly. An incredibly impressive result given the complexity of the music and compositions presented here.
An incredibly entertaining if not enlightening effort reinforcing the amazing potential this hybrid which for many is still in its creative infancy has to draw an even larger and more enthusiastic following.
Tracks: Jazz Impressions of a Kriti; Alap Intro to Refuge; Refuge In Rhythm; New Beginnings; Introduction to Sahara; Sahara; Voice of 1000 Colors; Vertical Fantasy on "You Know You Know"; Feast or Famine.
Personnel: Marc Rossi: composer, steinway b piano, keyboards, laptop; Lance Van Lenten: tenor and soprano saxophones; Bill Urmson: electric basses; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums and percussion.
Special Guests: Geetha Ramanathan Bennett: voice (2,3); Prasanna: guitars (1); Bruce Arnold: guitars (4,6).