SHEZ RAJA PROFILED (2011): Jazz with a world view

 |   |  1 min read

Shez Raja Collective: Karmic Flow
SHEZ RAJA PROFILED (2011): Jazz with a world view

British jazz bassist Shez Raja confounds expectation in the best possible way. A scan of reviews and comments in the British press for the Shez Raja Collective (which included saxophonist Andy Sheppard and trumpeter Claude Deppa on the new album Mystic Radikal) refer to funkmeister Bootsy Collins and Marcus Miller (behind Miles Davis albums such as Tutu), Stanley Clarke and the Mahavisnu Orchestra as if lead by Jaco Pastorius.

And of course there are influences from Raja's Asian background (he studied tabla drumming) -- which doesn't quite explain the Afro-influence and steel pans on Mandala Girl, one of the standouts on Mystic Radikal. (Probably because Deppa was born in South Africa.)

Whatever it is Raja is doing, critcis are liking it as it bridges fusion and world music from a band which also includes electric violin.

33JAZZ208As reviewer George Mitton noted at All About Jazz: "Mystic Radikal is an exciting mixture that's all the more enjoyable because the constituent elements never seem forced or unnatural in combination.

"It's a melting pot, but without the political connotations of cultural friction. This is fusion music at its most straightforward and entertaining."

Born in north west London, Raja studied violin before picking up electric bass and at 18 moved to Leeds to study tabla and Indian music theory. He toured with Elephant Talk (a jazz/world music crossover group) and was in Loka whose album Fire Shepherds was well received at Elsewhere here.

By the time he hit London Raja was in demand as a session player and played Ronnie Scott's, toured with MC Lyte and formed his Collective in 207.

Mystic Radikal is the flexible group's third album and Guardian critic John Fordham noted "a Headhunters-like bravura to some tracks, and the unruly Mandala Girl and ethereal Beauty of the Beast close an album that warms up in imagination as it progresses".

Shez Raja comes to New Zealand for a short tour in late February/early March and will pick up local musicians Timothy William (award-wining pianist), Pascal Roggen (vioilin) and Steven Webster (drums).

Tour_Poster__small

Share It

Your Comments

mark - Feb 14, 2011

I was sent this CD to review for my It's A Jazz Thing radio show by local keyboard player Tim Williams. My attention was draw to it by the presence of Andy Sheppard whos music I have admired for many years (although someone whos opinion I respect very much was less than impressed with Sheppard's last release on ECM).

Shez Raja's CD is good but not great in my opinion. It slips between world "fluffyness" and glossy studio produced jazz-fusion. It does not do either genre extremely well but is pleasant enough. I believe Gene Rivers will be interviewing Raja on his GeorgeFM show when Raja is here.

On a slightly digressive (is that a word) note - i saw Stanley Clarke live last Friday night and wonder why anyone with bother to try and play the bass after witnessing Clarke live.

Sarah - Mar 18, 2011

I saw the Shez Raja band at Mission Bay Jazz Festival and out of the dozen or so bands I saw they were by far the best,. SO much energy and wonderful eclectic music. I picked up a copy of the album there and haven’t stopped listening since! I saw their next gig at Rakinos. Again another great show (although I got there late nd only caught the last half! Great band & v friendly guys!

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

At 77 and with a career of almost six decades behind her, Cleo Laine admits she is slowing down a little. But not much. This year she is fully booked and that includes dates in Australia and... > Read more

Billy Hart Quartet: One is the Other (ECM/Ode)

Billy Hart Quartet: One is the Other (ECM/Ode)

Although drummer Bily Hart seems to have been around since jazz was a young man -- he's now 73 and played in soul bands behind Otis Redding and others before seriously embarking on the jazz route... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Lemonheads: Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye (2009)

The Lemonheads: Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye (2009)

When, in 2004, I interviewed Evan Dando -- the golden boy of great promise who fronted the Lemonheads -- he was pleasingly unapologetic about having taken most drugs known to man . . . and a few... > Read more

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

Against expectation, 2005 was a rare year for 64-year old Bob Dylan, especially since he hadn’t had an album of new material out in four years. Yet Dylan seemed to be everywhere in... > Read more