Brooklyn Raga Massive — Terry Riley In C
(Northern Spy NS094, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-11-11
Brooklyn Raga Massive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to artists who both preserve and advance the music of India, often staging performances combining musicians of different backgrounds. They’ve done interpretations of John and Alice Coltrane’s music, Cuban music, Ravi Shankar’s music, and so on. The recording at hand documents a creative adaptation of Terry Riley’s famous piece “In C.” The ensemble consists of more than a dozen musicians, including Indian instruments (tabla, sitar, bansuri), Western instruments (violin, cello, upright bass, guitar, hammered dulcimer, trumpet), vocalists, and other instruments (oud, latin percussion). Riley’s concept for the piece consists of 53 cells, short motifs in the key of C, which can be performed on any instruments, and are to be repeated at the musicians’ own discretion. Improvisation based on the patterns was encouraged. BRM begins this set with a brief piece called “Raga Bihag Alap” to get us in the mood, then launches into “In C.” Throughout the performance, tablas provide a cheerful propulsion, setting a brisk tempo that varies in feel over the course of the piece. At times, various of the instruments will take up simple droning roles as others come to the fore with the cells. This is a composition that is bound to be different for every performance — it’s designed that way — but you could say BRM’s version is more different than usual. The combination of instruments is fascinating, and as the piece ebbs and flows, different sounds draw attention, contribute a bit, then cycle out to make room of other voices. For anyone who’s a fan of Riley’s music or of Indian music, this recording should be a winner, a worthy entry in the growing set of interpretations of this piece.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more