In the review to Edward Powell's Spiritdance, I made mention of the presence of African rhythms and soulfulness; well, Powell himself musically speaks to it in much same manner as I did, mentioning that Africa provides the centrality to East and West, a way-station historically, here incorporating much atop its own unique patterns and modes. Bluesand is more noticeably an extension of that apprehension, a feast of Arab, Indian, and African sounds sieved through his own learned, almost professorial, mastery of the elements of each. Powell's stringwork dominates, as it should, but Patrick Feldner's percussives are felt more fully here than in Spiritdance, quite gratifyingly so. Vocals, provided by Powell and Karen Kelnarova, likewise play a more significant role as well.
This does not diminish Powell's Shakti-esque basing in stringwork that will draw praise from John McLaughlin, Matthew Montfort, and others of the elevated spirit and acumen. Crunch even incorporates more inflectedly rock tempo-ed elements, not to mention delicious echoes of Western vocal uniqueness in such acts as Manhattan Transfer, Sergio Mendes, the Swingle Singers—by no means as obvious as in those others' but definitely a back-scatter. Crunch swings with the refinements of it all. Sitar figures in nicely and in Blue Sea appropriately finds itself slurring in blues slanted vocabulary, Powell tracking himself on gambri-bass.
Flowing East is probably the most Westernized cut but still recalls Osamu Kitajima's experimentations in conflating cultural sophistications transoceanically, Powell encanting in Motown refrains behind his oud and electric guitar. The collision of mid-continental America and sino-Ottoman sounds, however, is unique, rarely heard. Then, of course, there are the perpetual jam elements native to Indian compositions. In all, Bluesand, like every Powell CD, represents a rather bold departure even from most such fusions. If you think Paul Horn was the cool cat way back when (and that was some great stuff, especially Inside), or Emil Richards before him, I'd suggest instead recalling Oregon by way of Mickey Hart, the trippier ECM recordings (L. Shankar et al), as well as a bit of Between and 60s trance musics. That should hit most of the bases.This review is one of four of Powell's work; so see here, here, and here, to catch the rest.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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