Varoius Artists - West Meets East- Indain Music & It's Influence On [El/ Cherry Red Records - 2020]West Meets East is a compilation focus in on how Indian music influenced music of the West be it jazz, classical, or easy listening fare. This three CD set from Cherry Red sub-label El brings together both original Indian music & the western music that it influenced, and over the three-disc set, it’s certainly a nicely varied and rewarding sonic journey.
The release comes presented in a nicely striking mustard yellow & vibrate red-colored card slipcase. Inside each of the three discs are presented in their a card slip sleeves, and also featured is thirty-two-page booklet. The booklet features write-up/quotes from various western artists regarding Indian music- in the latter part of the booklet we find full tracklisting/ credits for all three discs, along of course with pictures of artists/release covers.
Moving onto the CD’s themselves- and on disc one, we have seven tracks, and eighty minutes of music. The disc starts in Indian with the darting-yet-mysterious "Sidhi Bhairavi(Morning Raga)" – a fifteen minute from 1957 track by Ravi Shankar for Sitar, Tabla, and tamboura. Onto a classic John Coltrane track from 1962 "My Favorite Things", where he transformed the popular track into a hypnotic & spiraling eastern tinged slice of modal Jazz. Then back to mother Indian for 1962’s "Yaman Kalyan: Teen Tala( Evening raga)" which found the slightly more fragile & resounding tones of the Sarod & Tabla slow darting & passing by each other. The disc is topped off lounge jazz flavors of The Victor Feldman Quartet’s "New Delhi", with is coolly jiving blend of vibes, flute, piano, and smoothly snaking percussion.
Disc two takes in another eight tracks, and seven nine minutes playtime. We start off nicely mellow-if- a-little forlorn with "Left Alone" by the Eric Dolphy Quinet, before moving towards wacky cosmic jazz flavorings of Sun Ra And His Arkestra "Indian"- with its great blend of crashing-to-ticking tocking percussion, grooving organ & wailing horn work. We drop in with Miles Davis for 1958’s "Milestones" and it’s darting ‘n’ cheeky modal jazz. Before ending the disc back in east for the just shy of twenty minutes of 1962’s "Miyan Ki Malhar(Rainy Season Raga)"- with its hypnotic tolling & twanging Sitar, Surbahar, and Tablar playing.
Lastly, we have of disc three, and this is the most musically varied of the trio of discs- here we have twenty-five tracks in all, and a total of eighty-one minutes playtime. We go from rapid & busy rhythmic flavors of Chatur Lal- "Tabla Solo( Tritala Rhythm)", onto eastern fuelled exotica groove of Yusef Lateef’s "Love Dance". Through to the playful swooning western strings meet twang Sitar brightness that is the title theme for 1961 film Teen Kanya( Three Girls) , onto the spritely orchestral flourishes & darts of Maurice Ravel’s “Laideronnet, Imperatic Des Pagodes”. The disc nicely moves through easy listening, classical, cinematic, before ending on more jaunting-yet-intimate solo piano playing from Bela Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances For Paino”.
All told another nicely curated and put together compilation from El- and if you have any interest at tall in how Indian music influenced the west you’ll be needing to make sure you get a hold of this three-disc set.Roger Batty