Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

WORLD MUSIC REVIEW

Remember Shakti unforgettable

September 20, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The latest installment of John McLaughlin's world-music fusion group, Remember Shakti, showed up at UCLA's Royce Hall on Thursday. Similar in personnel to both the original Shakti from the mid-'70s, as well as the version of Remember Shakti that performed at UCLA a few years ago, the current incarnation offered a state-of-the-art blend of jazz and Indian classical music.

The group always has been centered in the musical axis of McLaughlin's guitar and the tabla and other percussion of Zakir Hussain. That connection remained a key element in the music, but the more recent additions of percussionist V. Selvaganesh (the son of Shakti's original percussionist), electric mandolinist U. Shrinivas and singer Shankar Mahadevan have considerably expanded the group's creative scope.

In Thursday's program, McLaughlin's guitar and Shrinivas' mandolin made an intensely intimate musical partnership, their melodic lines coiling around each other, sometimes in quiet suspension, more often in sudden bursts of fast-fingered fury. Now thoroughly adept with the complexities of Indian classical improvising, McLaughlin soloed in a fashion honoring this genre as well as his own roots in Western blues, rock and jazz. And Shrinivas, playing his unique physical alteration of an instrument not common to Indian music, was an unstoppable whiz, infusing his phrasing with swift, vocal-like slips and slides.

Equally compelling, the percussion exchanges and the individual soloing by Hussain (concentrating for the most part upon tabla drums) and Selvaganesh (intricately manipulating the khanjari, or small-frame drum) were marvelously virtuosic demonstrations of the great sophistication and complexity of Indian percussion music.

The most dramatic addition, however, was that of Mahadevan, a classically trained veteran of film musical soundtracks and a regular with other fusion groups. He brought a combination of sweet-toned lyricism as well as some tongue-twisting swarmalika -- or Indian solfeggio-like scat singing -- to a consistently engaging program of boundary-less world music.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|