ALBUM MOSAIC IN MOTION Reviewed by Matthew Warnock (Editor in Chief for Guitar International Magazine)
Multi-instrumentalist Sandeep Raval has brought together myriad influences and music styles on his latest genre-bending album Mosaic in Motion. The title is extremely apt for the musical conglomeration that converges on the record’s nine energetic and deeply creative tracks. Constantly moving between inspirations, genres, grooves, time signatures, keys and modes, Raval and company span the musical landscape on this epic journey of highly entertaining interactivity. While this album may be labeled by some as modern jazz, world music or modern funk, these songs rise above classification to stand on their own as portraits emerging from Raval’s inner ear, manifesting themselves on the ensemble’s sonic canvas.
The album kicks off with a diversely composed and performed piece, “Digu,” which showcases the many different elements that weave their way through Raval’s music. Based on a drum and bass kit beat, layered with Indian drumming and topped off with a killer jazz-saxophone solo by Frasier Allibone and an enchanting vocal line by Mahesh Vinayakram, the song builds to an ecstatic climax as voice and sax trade melody lines, feeding off each other’s creativity until both instruments seem to be emanating from the same musician. It is this level of creative expression, within the context of a formal framework, coupled with the ensemble’s high level of interaction that combine to make this song, and the rest of the album, so successful. These musicians understand that it takes more than just great chops to bring together music on this level. It takes musicianship and an openness to work with those around them, with both aspects soaking every track on the record.
Besides the more modern sounding grooves, Raval also digs into classic funk based rhythms for songs such as “A Jostle.” Here, the song’s introduction sounds more folk-based than others on the record, with its repetitive note groupings that help set up the saxophone-vocal melody line that kicks the musicians off into their respective improvisations. As was the case with the album’s opener, this track features strong saxophone work, though this time by Stephen O’Gorman, as well as some seriously funky piano fills by John Bowman.
The track is also defined by the interaction between the ensemble’s members, with piano, vocals and saxophone taking center stage. After listening to this, and other, tracks, one gets the impression that the conversational aspect of these pieces rivals the compositions themselves in regards to their level of importance in the minds of each performer. Focusing on this aspect of music is something that many jazz and world music artists attempt in their recordings and live shows, but few will ever reach the level that Raval and his compatriots achieve on this album, a testament to the creative nature of their music.
Mosaic in Motion is an album that can’t, and shouldn’t, be fully absorbed in one listening session. This music was written with such depth and detail, and performed with such creativity, that it something new will jump out of each song upon every new listen. Melodies that weren’t previously heard will now be brought into focus. A new rhythmic variation in the drums, which previously hung in the background, will suddenly leap to the front of the stage. This is the true test of an album with this amount of improvisation and interaction, can it stand the test of time and does it hold up to extensive listening. In both cases the answer is a resounding yes. This is an album of the highest quality and musical caliber that is sure to bring sonic enjoyment to any fan of modern improvised jazz and world music.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)