Arun Ghosh, Indo Electronica Stage, London Mela, Gunnersbury Park, London 10 August 2008

15. 8. 2008 | Rubriky: Articles,Live reviews

[by Ken Hunt, London] The sixth London Mela returned to its spiritual homeland on the borders of Hounslow and Ealing to the west of London once again and once again it was a celebration cum fair, which is all mela means in several of the subcontinent’s languages. The blurb on the front of the programme proclaimed: “Eight zones with urban, classical and experimental music, DJs, circus, dance, visual arts, comedy, children’s area, food from around the world and a giant funfair.”

The clarinettist Arun Ghosh closed proceedings on the Indo Electronica stage with a set drawing mainly on his Northern Namaste (Camoci Records, 2008) album. This time he fronted a quartet with Pat Illingsworth on kit drums, Liran Donin on string bass and Nilesh Gulhane on tabla. Ghosh, a highly physical player, shouldered all of the melodic parts and most of the solos. The weather immediately turned foully British with drizzle turning to rain (it being August). The quartet began with Aurora, a tune too good to leave the world without having heard. It got the dancers dancing in front of the stage despite the rain. The set stuck close to Northern Namaste‘s material but it was no replication of the performances on the CD. Variations aplenty occurred. At one point, Singing In The Rain emerged as a melodic figure. Early on, Ghosh and his black liquorice stick had jumped off the stage to freshen up in the rain.

The performances expanded upon the recorded versions with, for example, an excellent percussion duet emerging during Come Closer. As the weather improved and the rain let up, the quartet pulled out a non-Northern Namaste plum or two. Ghosh’s lightly swung clarinet on Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue (popularised by John Coltrane), for example, mined rich new seams. Having run well over their allotted time and having been called back again and again for more, their visibly weary bandleader called their last number. He announced they were playing Aurora for those people who hadn’t been there at the beginning of their gig. The quartet actually eclipsed its opening version. It was a gig that confirmed Arun Ghosh as one of the most charismatic and imaginative performers on the British jazz scene. And he has the melodies to prove it. Aurora and Afro Blue are compositions to mention in the same breath and that is no journalistic hyperbole.

All photographs: Ken Hunt and Santosh Sidhu/Swing 51 Archives

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