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Babu - Up Roots

2009-07-04 09:32
Up Roots

There's more than enough ecstatic jazz exploration on offer here to suggest that Up Roots works equally well in the bedroom as it does in the concert hall. Um, come again? Sure. "Drunken Caravan" is a nifty 'ice-breaker' that finds Reza Khota (guitar), Kesivan Naidoo (drums), Shane Cooper (bass) and Ronan Skillen (tabla, percussion, didgeridoo) giving Duke Ellington's seminal standard ("Caravan") a mischievous modal jazz makeover that's so conceptually funky it just might lubricate your next late night 'dangerous liason'.

Meanwhile "Duggi Style" is a deceptively smooth jazz noodle that imagines guitar guru John McLaughlin and bass punk Jaco Pastorious trying to prise the funk free from muzak classic "Popcorn". Okay, not quite, but you get the idea: Babu has a sense of humour. They've also got some serious chops. "Eclipse" is a bewitchingly atmospheric 10 ½ minute exploration of just what global jazz might mean with Cooper's subtle  bass perambulations, Skillen's textured tabla shades and Naidoo's polyrhythmic pulse paving a path for Khota to map some spine tingling spirtual spaces through his sublime guitar solos.

And by the time cosmic coupling "Close Encounter" (part one and two) synchronises ambient Indian guitar ragas with increasingly progressive jazz rock rhythms, you'll realise Babu has also pulled off something of a minor coup. They've sidestepped the ambient new age abstraction that's castrated so much, so-called fusion for the past three decades by re-harnessing that primal modal musical language that enabled everyone from tenor sax titan John Coltrane to pop rock pathfinders The Beatles to take their art to the next level.
While it's tempting to gush over the Mahavishnu-Orchestra like methodology underpinning this Mother City Afro-Indo fusion combo's shape-shifting exploration of the spaces where Indian Classical inspired composition and jazz architectures meet and greet, Up Roots isn't tailored towards jazz boffins only.
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Mary 2009-07-03 05:15 PM
Babu are totally cool. Say thanks to me, for introducing you to them Miles!
Miles 2009-07-04 09:45 AM
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Thanks Mary!
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