Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls

Album review
Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Bird Calls

Label: ACT
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz
Ratings:



The concept here is so inspired, the playing so incendiary that five stars might not be enough. Combining the influences of his own South Indian heritage and the profound influence of alto sax legend Charlie Parker, Mahanthappa has come up with a method of rhythmically recontextualizing Parker songs so that they merely allude to the originals, using a familiar head, an identifiable riff, or a set of chord changes as a springboard into something truly unique. So “Donna Lee” shapeshifts into “On the DL,” “Confirmation” becomes “Sure, Why Not?,” “Steeplechase” becomes the raga-flavored “Gopuram,” and so on. The alto saxophonist plays with blowtorch intensity, remarkable fluidity, and uncannily crisp articulation throughout and is joined on the frontline by 20-year-old trumpet prodigy Adam O’Farrill. Together they play scorching lines that weave through the pieces with the near-telepathic tightness of Bird and Diz, but in a very different rhythmic fashion. They are accompanied by a stellar crew of pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Francois Moutin, and Rudy Royston, the most dynamic young drummer on the scene since Brian Blade. Mahanthappa’s originals are interspersed here with five improvisational interludes (“Bird Calls”) that highlight the inventive saxophonist’s incredible circular breathing and multiphonics techniques. Breathtakingly brilliant.

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Contributors:
  • primary artist, Rudresh Mahanthappa

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