13. My East is Your West - Sarathay Korwar and the Upaj Collective (Ninja Tune)
Born in America, raised in India and now living in London, Sarathay Korwar has been exposed to an eclectic range of musical traditions. He’s a classically trained tabla player but also now performs with jazz and improvisational musicians. He’s also toured with Kamasi Washington, gained the praise of Giles Peterson, created an inspirational debut album (‘Day to Day’ - 2016) and had time to both produce and remix other artists (see Hector Plimmer’s ‘Sunshine Remixed for one fine example).
Given his varied upbringing, the title for this project feels somewhat appropriate. It is an exploration of Indo-Jazz. There has been a long history of jazz musicians taking inspiration from Indian music and the album (recorded in one evening at the Church of Sound in Clapton, London in early 2018), revisits those works. It is ambitious project – Korwar assembled five Indian and five jazz musicians for the Upaj Collective, the fusion works perfectly, particularly on the improvisational delight of John McLaughlin’s ‘Mind Ecology', whilst the genuinely ecstatic performance by Carnatic singer Aditya Prakash in their rendition of Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘Hajj’ will leave all listeners breathless. Prakash reappears later on the feverish interpretation of Ravi Shankar’s ‘Mishrank.’ After the jazz horns, sitars and table have weaved around one another, it falls to him to take the song to its breathtaking conclusion.
Whereas many live albums have difficulty doing justice to the musical event that they are meant to be capturing ‘My East meets Your West’ is a true exception. The interplay between the musicians is palpable, the delight in interpreting and improvising with these pieces of music is evident throughout. Sarathay Korwar and the Upaj Collective have created a wonderful fusion of sounds.
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.