Concert Review: Takadimi, Anthology Lounge, 10 February 2021

An enthralling show of East-West Fusion Jazz by Takadimi kicked off the year for the Creative Jazz Club in Auckland.

Virtuoso tabla player Manjit Singh, originally from Punjab Province leads a group which takes us on a magic carpet ride of sound which feels rooted in familiar American Jazz, but from which older Eastern music traditions manifest and take over.

The Players. Alan Brown piano and keyboard, Charlie Isdale saxophone and violin, Mostyn Cole bass.

Original compositions on the opening numbers.

Ninety Miles and let’s say the tablas play a drone with brief solos as you travel down the expanse of wild West Coast. Late night Jazz Noir and then some Latin notes from the saxophone. Piano tumbles all over the place, throws out some Blues, and meshes with the tablas.

Winter is built from a rain raga. The saxophone begins quietly and emulates a piper. Piano does sound like rain and there is call and response interplay with the tablas. The bass solos and dances a bit of Funk before the flutey saxophone comes back to resolve the piece.

The room really heats up and cooks with a version of a John McLaughlin and Shakti piece, La Dance. Violin introduces the tune with Celtic and Indian intertwined. The keyboards play loose and limber rhythms which lead into an effects-laden electric guitar sound which gets a great cheer. The violin comes back in with keening witchy tones. Tabla player does some scat singing.

I was looking forward to hearing some Sufi singing and it was a thrill to hear Manjit’s partner Daljeet Kaur.

Dil Tarpe is a Sufi Qawwal. The singer comes in mid-range and doesn’t rise in peaks which indicates it is probably a devotional song. A Jazz rhythm predominates. The saxophone is brash and honking.    

Man Amadeam is described as a Sufi-Pashtun mash-up. The vast land of fiercely independent hill tribes  where Afghanistan and Pakistan merge. Rhythmic Middle-Eastern mountain music. The singer wafts in and around this with a nice hypnotic melody.

Lagi Bina is a classic Qawwal. The genre most well-known in the West through Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The violin plays Indian drone as the singer preaches melodically to establish the tune. We then move into the dominant rhythm and dramatic incantatory singing. Climaxes with a bajan and handclaps.

Balatho is a magnificent virtuoso tabla solo workout around the theme of galloping herds of horses. Primal and enthralling.

Dave Brubeck’s Take Five also gives the tablas a call-and-response solo, where the left hand bayan is the bass voice, the right hand daya the treble.

Morning Breeze takes inspiration from a meditation raga. It is played as a Drum’n’Bass battle which followed a piano and tabla duet.

Bombay Beat. They close the set with a Louis Bank’s tune. A founder of modern Indian Jazz. East and West blend in galloping rhythms and weaving melodies.

Spectacular Jazz Fusion and Sufi music. A high standard to match and a great opening for the Creative Jazz Club.

Rev Orange Peel