JJ 05/93: Jan Garbarek / Ustad Fateh Ali Khan – Ragas And Sagas

Thirty years ago, Michael Tucker welcomed a new foray into the fusion of jazz and the subcontinental perhaps first essayed by John Coltrane. First published in Jazz Journal May 1993

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Another fine example of Garbarek’s ability to develop aspects of jazz phrasing and dynamics while blending into music of a folk-derived, essentially contemplat­ive, meditational character.

Apart from the dramatic, ascensional passion of the tenor-led Saga, which unfolds over a minimal, yet mesmeric riff – supplied by an uncredited synthesiser player, most likely Garbarek himself – this meeting of East and West is distinguished by the legato subtleties of its mixture of control­led, yet impassioned vocalese, beautifully chosen (and sus­tained) medium-slow tempi and finely turned saxophone obbligati.

Those who enjoyed the Mayer/Harriott collaborations, or the Shakti and Peshkar groups, will find much to relish here, as will anyone who enjoyed the more reflective moments of Garbarek’s collaborations with Shankar (Song For Everyone) and Zakir Hussain (Making Music) several years ago.

The relaxed precision of Shaukat Hussain’s rich tabla figures, the extraordinary dynamic and tonal range of Gar­barek and the affecting resonance of the voices of Khan and (female, 15-year-old) Thathaal conjure a whole which is very much more than the sum of its parts. If this is ‘world music’, I’m all for it.

Discography
Raga I; Saga (*); Raga II; Raga III; Raga IV (52.19)
Usted Fateh Ali Khan (v); Jan Garbarek (ts/ss); Ustad Shaukat Hussain (tbla); Usted Nazim All Khan (sarangi); Deepika Thathaal (v); (*) plus Manu Katche (d). Oslo, May 1990.
(ECM 1442)