On their Night Dreamer debut, the sensational drummer, percussionist and musical artist Sarathy Korwar and his allstar UPAJ Collective gain brand new ground in their mission to rebalance spiritual jazz with authentic Indian classical music. UPAJ means “to improvise” in Hindi, and recording direct-to-disc at Artone Studios with almost no preconceived directions, they truly capture the “spirit of spontaneous improvisation”, as Sarathy puts it, like never before.
The Night Dreamer session begins with So said Said. Dedicated to Edward Said, Palestinan author of Orientalism, arguably the most influential book to address the West's contemptuous depiction of The East. It builds slowly, as the saxophone of Collocutor’s Tamar Osborn growls and echoes over the soft bedrock of Korwar’s percussion. Guitar, keys and violin slowly join the conversation before a tense groove follows Korwar’s galloping drums.The Indian-centric drum’n’bass of State of Bengal’s Flight IC 408 is recast as a rousing acoustic piece. A short tabla intro builds into a pounding groove, before the piece breaks into a beautiful violin solo from renowned violinist Achuthan Sripadmanathan. An earthy solo from Osborn follows before the whole piece lifts off in the wake of Kefaya guitarist Giuliano Modarelli’s riffing.
Coming down, Alistair MacSween, also from Kefaya, introduces Elephant Hangover with a flurry of cosmic keys, leading to a gripping collective improvisation. The epic Intimate Enemy, named after Ashis Nandy’s influential book on the sense of loss of belonging, begins slowly at first, around Korwar’s delicate percussion. As group improvisation increased around the mode, the piece builds and builds before a magnificent solo from Osborn.
On this special recording for Night Dreamer, Korwar and co have brought the UPAJ fully to bear with its mission to collaborate and improvise.The nature of recording straight-to-acetate, with just a pause between each record side, was a challenge they fully embraced, entering the recording with minimal instructions. Korwar relates that they initiated the session by sitting together in a circle to perform a set of breathing exercises, now a regular part of their gig prep. This set a collective tone, slowing heart rates, it centered the players and they felt more present, more aware of the space and each other. As such, trust, communication and ability to relate, came before the instrumentation.
This new release for Night Dreamer marks an exciting chapter for Sarathy Korwar and The UPAJ Collective, “stepping into the unknown”, only to discover a more true and honest reflection of their art.
Sarathy Korwar & Upaj Collective - Night Dreamer Direct To Disc Sessions LP
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