Greg Hatza spent the first part of his career as one of many disciples of organ-jazz giant Jimmy Smith. He played with Sonny Stitt, Philly Joe Jones and Kenny Burrell. In the 1970s, he switched to synthesizers and world fusion. After his resurgence on organ in the 1990s, Hatza’s passion for cross-cultural music and Eastern religion remained undimmed. He even worked as qualified martial arts instructor.
It’s in that realm that Hatza met tabla player Enayet Hossain, who enlisted him in Melodic Intersect, a group that falls into the same category as Shakti and enjoys plenty of acclaim to this day. Their Talking Hands is a duet between keyboard and tabla.
Though their excellent musicianship is not in doubt, attention when listening to their esoteric world fusion invariably drifts away. Rare highlight Dark Matter is a piece that would not be out of place in an eerie late-night drive-in movie. It is enlivened by hypnotic swirling notes, sounding somewhat as a soprano saxophone, and subtle divisions of colours on the tabla skins. Pervading Dialogue are terse licks and a keyboard sound that approaches the ARP synth. They bring to mind the pioneering fusion stylings of Joe Zawinul.
As the equivalent of a half-finished demo tune by Sly Stone or Stevie Wonder, Crazy Calcutta Streets (including funky keyboard bass lines) is not exceptional but entertaining, and surpasses the majority of Hatza and Hossain’s yoga-jazz exercises.
Aiming for tranquility and enlightenment is praiseworthy. However, the feeling lingers that the repertoire of Talking Hands begs for larger orchestration. Therefore, listeners would’ve been better off if the ideas presented here had found a place in the bosom of the Melodic Intersect ensemble.
Talking Hands; Crazy Calcutta Streets; Sweet Shop; Dark Matter; Midnight Mood; Deep Love; Sultan’s Dream; The Conversation; Dialogue (56.32)
Hatza (kyb); Hossain (tab); Unknown location, probably 2022.