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Miren (A Longing) by Ravish Momin

India born, New York-based percussionist-composer Ravish Momin has studied drum-set with Andrew Cyrille and Bob Moses, as well as North Indian percussion with Misha Masud. He has worked with a variety of musicians including forward-thinking bassist William Parker, free jazz violinist Billy Bang, eclectic guitarist Brad Shepik, trumpeter Roy Campbell and percussionist Susie Ibarra, to name only a few. He has received grants from Arts International and Meet the Composer, and has performed at jazz festivals throughout the world.

Momin created Trio Tarana in 2003 and ensemble that works in the spirit of Tarana; a song style in North Indian classical music where nonsense syllables or mnemonic drum sounds are used to spontaneously create a fluid chant or composition. The result, here, is some of the most Indian and East-Asian rhythmically influenced jazz and free jazz music ever heard. His cohorts in this version of Trio Tarana include Sam Bardfeld on violin and Brandon Terzic on oud. Bardfeld may be familiar to those who heard him as a featured member of Bruce Springfield’s Seeger Sessions Band. He has also worked with jazz luminaries John Zorn, Anthony Braxton and the Jazz Passengers featuring Debbie Harry. Terzic has worked with familiar New York scene artists like Minu Cinelu and David Fiuczinski.

The music on Miren (A Longing) isn’t so much world music as it is interactive music with all of the musicians bringing their own strengths to the table and then freely sharing them in order to create a Gestalt-ist "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" music; but don’t be fooled, the individual parts are great as well. As a percussionist Momin is empathy personified. On "Tehrah" his percussion is more melodic than rhythmic, speaking with and not accompanying his band mates. His solo on "Ragalaya," on top of a repetitive oud mantra, is concerned with phrase and line of development. He speaks this multi-faceted tuneful language throughout, with the result being a true mixing of three melody instruments into a single ensemble as opposed to the traditional Western view of percussion as a time-keeper.

Sam Bardfeld’s violin is expressive, dramatic and emotional throughout. His ability to sense when to bring his voice to the fore and when to back off is obviously honed through years of sympathetic music making. While his technique is astounding it is driven by musical concerns first and flash second. Is playing on "Miren" is a great example of this.

Brandon Terzic’s contribution is likewise in agreement with the others. He really shines on "Miren." Finding new ways to approach the context, he none-the-less is both original and solidly locked in the tradition at the same time; not an easy juggling act, but one he pulls off with aplomb and grace. New England Conservatory teacher and current rising jazz star Tanya Kalmanovitch’s performance on the track six version of "Fiza," her only appearance on the disc, is stellar.

For those who wish to go beyond the traditional Western-bounds of jazz, this group tells a tale that deserves hearing.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ravish Momin
  • CD Title: Miren (A Longing)
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Clean Feed
  • Tracks: Tehrah, Fiza, Ragalaya, Miren, What Reward?, Fiza
  • Musicians: Ravish Momin (drums, percussion, cajon, talking drum), Sam Bardfeld (violin), Brandon Terzic (oud, effects), Tanya Kalmanovitch (viola)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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