Indo-Pak Jazz Coalition | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Indo-Pak Jazz Coalition 

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INDO-PAK JAZZ COALITION

Jazz and Indian music have a sketchy history together--a bit surprising, when you consider how much they have in common. Like jazz, the classical traditions of the subcontinent make emphatic use of improvisation--albeit within the regimented restrictions of raga, which commands the use of certain rhythms, scales, and ornamentations in a given context. The most noteworthy examples of this crossbreeding, John McLaughlin's mid-70s band Shakti (with L. Shankar on violin) and the galvanic albums that partnered saxist John Handy with sitar master Ali Akbar Khan, whet the appetite for more. But while each of those bands matched a Western virtuoso with an Eastern one, the newly formed Indo-Pak Jazz Coalition brings together two Chicagoans who themselves embody both worlds. Alto saxist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who recently moved to New York, learned his appreciation for Indian music from his parents, but he has used the models of Ornette Coleman, Jackie McLean, and Steve Coleman to build his forceful pantonalism and feverish rhythms. Fareed Haque, one of this country's most gifted guitarists, combines his extensive experience as a jazz improviser with a family heritage that is part Pakistani: one look at his unique guitar-sitar should tell the story. Playing a repertoire they composed specifically for this group, Mahanthappa and Haque attempt to follow the guidelines of raga within their improvising; but while they pay some heed to the prescribed modes and inflections, they let the more libertarian winds of jazz blow through the music as well. Tabla player Maninderpal P. Singh, who rounds out the Coalition, avoids the jazz convention of using his drums as some sort of exotic congas; instead of complementing or opposing the pulse, he hews to the predetermined beat patterns of Indian and Pakistani music, which involve repeated motifs of pitch as well as rhythm. The trio appears on a program with the Korean ensemble Il Kwa Nori, the Hasu Patel Trio (playing north Indian classical music), and a little big band led by the Japanese-born Chicago blueswoman Yoko Noge, as part of the second annual Asian American Jazz Festival. Friday, 8 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-6300 or 312-559-1212. NEIL TESSER

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