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World Music CD Reviews New Age & Avant Garde

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Trilok Gurtu
The Trilok Gurtu Collection
Times Square

By Derek Beres

Published September 23, 2005

Pulling from two decades of eclectic experimentation, this collection of percussionist Trilok Gurtu is as varied as his regular records. Translation: extremely innovative, yet too often falling into unforgivable light jazz. When the man is on, he’s absolutely brilliant: the veena-led, near-gnawa jazzy “Cherry Town” from ’96 and stunning closer “Om,” a traditional vocal track (Shobha Gurtu) with the light instrumentation of tabla, keyboards and tambura. By listening to this collection, you’d think his only gift was Indian classical, though collaborations with Malian vocalist Salif Keita and Italian DJ Robert Miles (both not included) prove otherwise. Gurtu is obviously masterful with his hands; his arranging skills can be equally blessed. When he revisits 1995’s “Believe” collaboration with guitarist David Gilmore, they’re two decades late on the Indo-jazz fusion thing. His “Ballad For Two Musicians” (the other being Joe Zawinul) is pretty, but also uninspiring. Perhaps a return to the track selection drawing board, or if you want to edit at home, iTunes will do you justice.

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