Alien Chatter :: Music For Aliens
So this disc arrives in our lavish New York City office the other day and the cover letter states,"With today's resurgence in Indo-Jazz, Alien Chatter furthers this genre with a combination of the classical Indian tabla coupled with the traditional jazz piano." The phrase Indo-Jazz has only ever managed to conjure visions of Shakti and Oregon for me, so these guys have some high standards to live up to if that's their claim. And as far as the pairing of tabla and piano go...not quite sure what to make of that.
Behind this project are two very able and accomplished musicians: Rodney Lee (Piano, Synths, & Programming) and Satnam Ramgotra (Tabla, Drums, Percussion, Vocals, & Programming), who it would seem, crossed paths by accident, and that's just what happened as it turns out. Each has toured and done studio work for a slew of notable artists including Anastacia, Jody Watley, Terence Trent D'Arby, Beck, Sting, Seal, & Nikka Costa, among others. And both have had their music featured in national television programs and major motion pictures.
So how 'bout the music you ask?
Self described as "A sophisticated blend of original contemporary jazz piano, laced with pop, soul, R&B, and electronica elements, with a special emphasis on Indian classical tabla and percussion stylings," Music For Aliens turns out to be an incredibly easy CD to listen to! I hadn't been sure what to expect with the combination of tabla and piano, but I was amazed to find just how well these two guys made things work. For you listeners out there who have Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk, Ellis Marsalis, George Winston, and the like in your collections, but haven't quite made the leap to all things Indian, this may just be the disc to tickle your ivory tandoori stylee.
Ensconced within the framework of an electronica background, the tabla and piano (supported by a cast of synths, vocals, percussion, & drums), symbiose in the foreground to make you wonder why this hasn't been done before?! Neither instrument overpowers, but complement and enhance each other instead. Rodney's keys provide the basis for melody, while Satnam's tablas & drums partner alongside to support and propel the music forward, and at times taking lead. The piano is reminiscent of Cecil Taylor, Keith Jarrett, & Lyle Mays, unified by an R&B context that is extremely refreshing. The tabla, while based in classical Indian music, is liberated to act as its own entity, irrespective of genre, yet fully suited to all as the songs clearly demonstrate.
I'll dispense with the track by track breakdown in favor of simply extolling to you to get this CD and become one with the Aliens. Power to the people...that's the point!