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Self-titled by Free Spirits

Free Spirits is an Indo-jazz quartet who are rapidly making a name for themselves on their home terrain of the United Kingdom. Their self-titled debut album displays avant-garde stylistics and world class instrumentation. Free Spirits is comprised of Neil Harland on bass, Lewis Watson on saxophone, Dharambir Singh on sitar, and Bhupinder Singh Chaggar on tabla and electric percussion. The four members offer an enchanting body of work with dazzling melodic combinations, swirling motions and moments of aurally deep meditation like in the soothing notations of "Chester Street Seven." The interaction of melodic components is sophisticatedly handled making very fancy undulating movements and intercepting chambers. The music feels uplifting in a spiritual sense. The ethnic Indian-tones coloring tracks like "Conjunction" and "Bhairavi" are exotic and mysterious, while the traditional jazz instrumentations emboss the melodic patterns with an earthy texture. The group shows an understanding of implementing clear melodic hooks that weave in and out of the passages and holds a lasting impression on the listener.

Each track has uniquely stenciled patterns avowing exotic and earthy sounds together. The polarized tones seem accustomed to each other and show that their disparity enables them to complement each other. The resonance of the sitar on "Kanak Mangal" alongside the slipping and sliding notes of the saxophone engage in a delightful frolic as the rhythmic struts of the tabla and bass knolls kindle the lower register of the melody. The instruments move like a free-style dance that offers aural pleasure. The staunch rhythms of "Chandra" are coated in ancient vibrations emitting from the teased sitar strings, while the jazz-pop stylizing of the chord rings in "Olly Kauns" have fun percolating riffs that are uninhibited. "Yaman" or "Exit" is a short piece that is lightly powdered by the four instruments swirling about and then fading out as the bass is left standing alone.

Free Spirits is a portrait of pure Indo-jazz instrumentation. The band was honored with the prestigious Promoters Choice Award for 2007, and have played at the prominent Royal Festival Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival in 2007 and The Sage and Caedmon Hall. They are also slated to appear at the Manchester and Cheltenham Jazz Festivals in 2008. Each member has been disciplined with extensive training, enabling them to articulate their instrument patterns and coordinating their movements with one another. Free Spirits open peoples minds to Indo-jazz’s flexibility to fuse with classic jazz proto-types. The music has a spiritual aura with a transcendental pull.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Free Spirits
  • CD Title: Self-titled
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Tuk Tuk Records
  • Tracks: Conjunction, Bhairavi, Chester Street Seven, Kanak Mangal, Chandra, Olly Kauns, Yaman (Exit)
  • Musicians: Neil Harland (bass), Lewis Watson (saxophone), Dharambir Singh (sitar), Bhupinder Singh Chaggar (tabla and electric percussion)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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