I definitely love the business of reviewing CDs. It’s such an indescribably satisfying and rewarding experience. We reviewers get acquainted with some of the most remarkable and interesting projects imaginable. Not all endear themselves to us, but I doubt that any of my colleagues would argue that the projects always contribute to our total experience. Some are truly stellar, some o.k., some not-so-o.k., and some are real eyebrow-raisers. Where do I begin with Funk 'n Gandhi?
Track 1, maybe representative of the entire album, truly caught me by surprise. Its Eastern influence (evident throughout the CD) and chant-like vocals made me utter "Whoa! I need time to catch up and get my head around this one!" The CD has a distinct pulse. I just had trouble measuring that pulse! Some of the most welcome contributions came from the melodic flute of Deepak Ram, nice back-beat, finessed--though sometimes subdued--sax work by Gregg Mazel, and a moderately thick bass, played by Ron K. As a whole, however, "funk" it is not. Vocals (chants)? I’m not so sure. It’s simply not clear to me how they fit into this vivid puzzle of sound. For the sake of comparison and identification, it’s a bit of the melodic group, Yulara, but largely turned on its ear and taken through another dimension.
There were moments when a particular tune simply got away from me (e.g., the first cut, "Dipped in Ghee"). Other cuts had nice rhythms, complemented by the Bansuri wooden flute, providing the dominant Indian influence, and clear Western guitar work (check out the title track). This album is definitely a world music project with heavy Indian touches. Therefore, if you’re not sure as to whether or not you’re into this type of music--but you are inquisitive--it would behoove you to approach this album with a very open mind. You may not be able to otherwise fathom this atypical undertaking.
The various diverse couplings and collaborations in the wide world of jazz obviously have genuine appeal. This one, however, may well find a home with those who thrive on experimentation with the diverse cultures in the universe of world music.