Monday, June 20, 2016

Saagara - Saagara (2015)


Wacław Zimpel - alto clarinet, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, khaen
Giridhar Udupa - ghatam, konnakol, hand bass drum
Mysore N. Karthik - violin
Bharghava Halambi - khanjira, ghatam
K. Raja - thavil
Pramath Kiran - morsing



By Maciej Lewenstein

Wacław Zimpel is clearly very interested in world music and includes more and more elements of various kinds of folk and ethno music in his work. Saagara is an Indian quintet, but Saagara project is a genuine fully Wacław’s idea. When Zimpel went to India for the first time, invited by Giridhar Udupa, he has met the musician of the group. The first concert route in 2014 they played as a quartet; then in winter of 2015 the violin player Mysora N. Karthik joined the team.

Pramath Kiran, my personal friend, whom I met in Bangalore, recorded the group in his studio and played few notes and rhythms on morsing. Pramath is notable for collaborations with Michał Czachowski, and the story of our surrealist meeting at the Quantum Information Conference in Bangalore is described in Michał's entry. Another member of the team known from the Polish scene is "Ghatam" Giridhar Udupa, notable for recording the fantastic "Lechoechoplexita" with Leszek HeFi Wiśniowski. 

One might have an impression that this is an album, which in my book should have been filed in the entry "Wacław Zimpel with others". This, however, is a false impression: Saagara plays the music composed and arranged by Zimpel, employing the mixture of traditional / contemporary Indian music and Indian music based jazz. The best for me are the tracks with overdubbing on various clarinets, such as "Ya Maru", but "Avega" with fantastic vocal is also incredible. "Shikara" is the only track composed by Zimpel together with Udupa - it has also a very special mood, and incredible violin work of Karthik. Finally, I dig the closing "Hatsipaka" with my amigo Pramath, playing nice fragments on morsing.

There was this kind of artistic attempts before: John McLaughlin's Shakti was the most successful both artistically and commercially. Zimpel's project is of comparable quality and intensity. It is a clear masterpiece of this kind of music.

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