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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

Rudresh Mahanthappa Featuring Kadri Gopalnath

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published September 25, 2008

Pi (28)

When John Coltrane explored the relationship between classical Indian music and jazz in the ’60s, his creative wanderlust resulted in some of the most forward-thinking syntheses of an exceedingly forward-thinking time. Numerous musicians have since straddled the line between the two genres looking for commonalities, but few have done so as convincingly as the alto saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa (American-born) and (South Indian native) Kadri Goplnath, who team up on Kinsmen. Accompanied by guitar, violin, bass, mridangam (barrel drum) and Western drum kit, the two hornsmen display an innate complementary sense, allowing each other enough breadth to exert individual expression while alternately locking together on a singular course. Whether on the fiery, transcendent “Ganesha,” the rhythmically dense, melodically rich, raga-esque “Snake!,” highlighted by Rez Abassi’s sitar-like guitar, or the epic, sprawling “Kalyani,” spotlighting violinist A. Kanyakumari, these equal-opportunity jams ultimately meet at a place where genre lines cease to exist.