Doug Cox and Salil Bhatt: Slide to Freedom (Northern Blues)

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Doug Cox and Salil Bhstt: Fish Pond
Doug Cox and Salil Bhatt: Slide to Freedom (Northern Blues)

One of the many joys of Elsewhere is the unsolicited and unexpected mail, not the least when a CD like this -- dobro-meets-Indian music -- arrives all the way from a subscriber in Canada.

Guitarist Doug Cox -- who produces the Vancouver Island MusicFest and has been a long-time subscriber to Elsewhere -- sent me this terrific album which has since commanded considerable airtime at my place.

It stands at the crossroads of East and West (where the twain joyfully meet) and finds Doug with Salil Bhatt on satvik veena, and with a tabla player. The veena is a guitar-like Indian instrument and Bhatt's father Mohan (who also guests here) invented a variant of it which he plays on two superb pieces on this album.

Many such East-West albums can sound like forced fusions, but here songs by Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Willie Johnson sit seamlessly alongside original material by Cox and the Bhatts. The similar tones of dobro and veenas are entirely in sympathy, and on the instrumental tracks which stretch past the seven-minute mark there is an improvised exoticism at work which rests easily between West and East.

Don't take my word for it: Dave Rubin of Guitar Player magazine said this was a "stunning, groundbreaking marriage of the blues and Indian classical music".

Dave's right.

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