Debashish Bhattacharya / Bob Brozman: Mahima (Riverboat)

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Debashish Bhattacharya/Bob Brozman: Maa
Debashish Bhattacharya / Bob Brozman: Mahima (Riverboat)

American guitarist and raconteur Brozman was one of the unexpected delights at the 2003 Womad, where he appeared with Takashi Hirayasu playing Okinawan folk songs which they took off into the realms of Delta blues, soul funk, punk and boogie.

Brozman is one of those irritatingly gifted performers who seems to acknowledge no boundaries between cultures and styles and immerses himself in all with delight and uniformly excellent results.

He's an equal opportunity global explorer and here teams up with Indian slide guitarist Bhattacharya for an album which exists at the crossroads of devotional Indo-rock and Hawaiian pop

It's a kind of full circle album, too: Brozman's Hawaiian guitar tutor introduced the instrument to India in 1929 and lived in Calcutta for six years in the Forties, recording with local musicians. He taught the teacher who taught Bhattacharya's teacher.

So, here are keening Indian vocals over slack key guitars and slides with tabla drums burrowing away at the bottom.

And as with his Womad performance, Brozman pulls the music towards the blues and other world music influences while keeping an ear reverently on the raga tradition and folk (dhun) melodies from which the tunes have come. There's an African influence on Bana Mali, and Digi Digi Dom Dom is as silly, poppy and childlike a tune as any you'll hear this side of Top of the Pops.

There is delicacy (the haunting Maa, the seaside folk of Sujan Re) alongside rapid fire fretwork and slithering slide (the Spanish-flavoured Sur-o-Lahari and Tagore Street Blues), while Konkani Memories is as perfect a marriage of Indian and Hawaiian as you could imagine, and the final piece is a wistful lullaby.

The man who said never the twain shall meet should have lived long enough to hear this album.


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