DANIEL CARTER/RAVI PADMANABHA

Nivesana
Epoch Music No #

By Ken Waxman

Uniquely linking timbres adopted from Carnatic classical music with jazz-improv, ambient and electronics, percussionist Ravi Padmanabha creates a sound that more properly described as worldy than World. NIVESANA is particularly memorable since on this session, he hooks up with New York multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter, who improvises on alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, trumpet and flute.

Like his frequent associates bassist William Parker and trumpeter Roy Campbell, Carter is also open to non-American idiomatic sounds. This means the interaction on the seven tracks of this CD is not the parallelism of one man playing Free Jazz and the other World Music, but of the two intertwined.

Padmanabha, now New York-based, may play traditional South Indian instruments such as cymbals, percussion, moorsing, voice and tabla, but during his years in Buffalo, N.Y. before that – which included obtaining a dental surgery DDS from the university there – he played in as many experimental and improv groups as ethnic ones. An accomplished drummer and adapter of live loops, the percussionist has also performed with players ranging from Buffalo baritone saxophonist Steve Baczkowski to bassist Parker.

Unifying factor on many of the compositions is the connective tissues of Indian drones, which serves as ostinatos. Distinctively, the jangling twang of the moorsing or Carnatic jaw harp, adds a unique percussive impetus to some tracks as well. Most of the time, however, these overly ethnic influences are tempered with Padmanabha’s playing on the regular traps kit and cymbals, imparting more familiar beats and anchoring the tunes to American improv.

Although a combination of Carter’s reductionist and languorous clarinet and flute lines or muted trumpet swells and the pitter-patter of Padmanabha’s unattached cymbals or contrapuntal tabla reverberations may suggest either devotional or New Age sounds, neither man is inclined that way. Instead these interludes – one of which clocks in 14 minutes plus – highlight dual self-expression.

Similarly, while the nearly 21-minute “Maha Supreme/TaKaDinNaTaKa” and “Story Out of Print” feature the reedist on tenor saxophone and the percussionist on traps set, engaged in frenetic – in one case – and temperate – in the other – improvisations, it doesn’t link these tracks to, for example, John Coltrane’s later works with Elvin Jones or Rashied Ali. Padmanabha escapes the comparison more easily, since his cross pulsed flams and rebounds share space with tabla pulsations, hand clapping, tambourine shakes, moorsing twanging and repetitive South Indian chants. Carter’s separation is a bit more tenuous. That’s because during the course of his solos, squealing split tones and undulations gutturally growl and stretch into tongue-stopping, intensity – and at one point he quotes a snatch of “A Love Supreme”

None of this makes NIVESANA ecstatic Free Jazz, any more than the moorsing and tabla make it Raga-Jazz. More original than that, you can easily ascertain this by listening to the disc.

Track Listing: 1. Nivesana 2. Vasana 3. Vine Stem to Flowers 4. Maha Supreme/TaKaDinNaTaKa 5. The Jewel is in the Lotus 6. Remembrance 7. Story Out of Print

Personnel: Daniel Carter (alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, trumpet and flute) Ravi Padmanabha (drums, cymbals, percussion, moorsing, voice, tabla and live loops)