Best of 2017 #33: Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition – “Agrima” (Self-Produced)


It’s been rewarding and more than a bit fascinating to witness the transformation of the music of Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Indian music and NYC jazz isn’t a typical match of influences, and yet with his 2017 release Agrima, it’s as if the saxophonist has achieved a certain normalcy of presentation, to the point where an unconventional sound is as embraceable as taking your next breath.  The core of Agrima is Indian music, sometimes as a melodic influence and other times imposing its will upon a piece rhythmically.  But the house of the album is built with the raw materials of an indie-rock edge and contemporary grooves and electronic effects, and it’s why Agrima sits plumb with previous Mahanthappa recordings while also representing something new.

It’s been nearly ten years since Mahanthappa’s last recording with the Indo-Pak Coalition of guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer-percussionist Dan Weiss, but the daylight that separates 2008’s Apti and 2017’s Agrima could fuel an entire season of summer.  If anything, Mahanthappa’s 2011 release Samdhi should be singled out as the precursor to Agrima‘s effortless display of casual virtuosity.  Abbasi’s nuanced shifting of intensities on guitar is the perfect complement to the addictive chatter when Weiss switches over to tabla, and how the trio adds additional textures with varying degrees of electronic effects is a wash of color that adds vibrancy everywhere it touches down.

Everything about this album is wonderful.  And what it says about Mahanthappa’s willingness to refuse to sit still is promising as hell.

Music from Brooklyn, NY.

Read more at Bird is the Worm.