The irony was not lost when just a few short hours ago, I mentioned there could be one or two major releases to hit the shelves. I love being right....Today the mail person left me tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. An absolutely dynamite 4tet offering from will be hitting the streets on Jan. 29th 2013. Naturally that is a bit early to call it one of the best of 2012 but when the hybridization of jazz is all the rage, some of the finest music one can hear will be coming from these find players. Now my former editor would often caution me to stat as neutral as possible and never till the listener what to expect, I don't - I share a perspective.
This is progressive jazz with an adrenalin shot straight to the heart and alto saxophonist's Rudresh Mahanthappa's thirteenth as a leader. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Gamak would be the reharm or better yet reinvention of tunes some as far apart as a decade but there is a freshness and originality found no where else I can think of. Having worked with a variety of pianists, Mahanthappa decided for the fluidity and sonic variation of alternate tunings to he opted for David Fiuczynski who may well be the finest player you may never have heard of. Bassist Francois Moutin is an "A" list first call bassist that helps round out a stellar rhythm section with ace drummer Dan Weiss. Progressive jazz or "prog-rock" could easily be a misnomer. Gamak is a jazz collective that draws from a myriad of influences and explores the more modern ground few fear to tread.
The harmonic exploratory and dynamic tension created with the opening progressive infused tune "Waiting Is Forbidden" and closes with a more edgy punk style of "Majesty of the Blues." Everything else that happens between these two tunes is simply sonic gold. There may be but a half dozen alto player that are playing on Mahanthappa's level and Fiuczynski does things with the electric guitar that would seem utterly impossible. "Wrathful Wisdom" is a personal favorite and a Buddhist conceptual tune that while philosophical in nature, requires at times awkward counter intuitive fingerings. Back story and irony are often fun if not apt in the world of jazz. Another philosophical tune happened to be a sign on the Jersey Turnpike that was to have read "Stay In Lane." Mahanthappa took this as a sign to stay true to yourself as an individual and continues to do just that. While 2013 is weeks away and there are some heavy hitters to look out for, Gamak may well be one of the finest quartet pieces available. Mark your calendar!
Tracks: Waiting Is Forbidden; Abhogi; Stay I; We'll Make More; Are There Clouds In India? Lots of Interest; F; Copernicus; Wrathful Wisdom; Ballad for Troubled Times; Majesty Of The Blues.
Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto sax; David Fiuczynski: electric guitar; Francoise Moutin: acoustic bass; Dan Weiss: drums.