Indo Jazz (Sitar)




Jazz themes based on the music of India probably date at least to the same period that produced "Caravan" and other exotic milestones. The actual fusion of jazz with Indian music and musicians began in California a few years before the Beatles introduced the sitar to pop and rock. Bill Plummer and Emil Richards, later to produce some of the most interesting indo-jazz albums, studied along with Don Ellis, Irv Cottler, Joe Harriott, and other professional musicians under Harihar Rao (also as "Hari Har") in California circa 1964. The students formed the Hindustani Jazz Sextet, the mother of most of the indo-jazz efforts to follow in the 1960s and 1970s.

Indo-jazz started out as an experiment of just getting Indian and jazz musicians together in the same room. As with other types of exotic jazz, working with different rhythmic structures was a major hurdle. Eventually works of true fusion emerged, ranging from improvisations based on classical Indian ragas to "out" jazz blown on Indian instruments. Also there were new, California-mystical creations and plenty of pop songs covered by jazz musicians.

Not all Indo-jazz recordings rely on sitar (electric or traditional). Other Indian instruments such as the veena (or vina) and sarod are used, not to mention tabla and other percussion. Lotus Palace even borrows the more sensational instruments of an Indonesian gamelan orchestra. Many musicians, such as John McLaughlin and John Coltrane, synthesized the sound of traditional Indian instruments. Alice Coltrane used Indian music credibly in her heady, psychedelic creations. Guitarist Pat Martino achieved a similar effect with drums and drones. One of the leading exponents of Indo-jazz fusion in the early 1970s was extraordinary vibist Dave Pike.

See Odd Pop: Sitar and Vinyl Safari: Indian for Ananda Shankar, funky Bill Harris, spoken-word/sitar, and other jazz-related sitar LPs.

Buying: If you like this idiom, seek everything on the jazz labels.



Indo-Jazz LPs

Rating
8Alice Coltrane: Journey In Satchidananda; ABC/Impulse AS-9203; 1970
8Alice Coltrane: Universal Consciousness; ABC/Impulse AS-9210; 1971
7Alice Coltrane: Relection on Creation & Space (A Five Year View); ABC/Impulse AS-9232-2; 1973 (2-LP compilation)
7John Handy & Ali Akbar Khyan: Karuna Supreme; MPS G-22791; 1976/1975
7Joe Harriott/John Mayer Double Quintet: Indo-Jazz Suite; Atlantic ST-1465; 1966
8Joe Harriott/John Mayer Double Quintet: Indo-Jazz Fusions; Atlantic ST-1482; 1967 (India: EMI/Columbia SCX-6122)
5Paul Horn in India (ragas for flute & veena); World Pacific WPS-21447
8The Indo-British Ensemble: Curried Jazz; Music for Pleasure MFP-1307; 1969
5Shankar Jaikishan & Rais Khan: Raga-Jazz Style; EMI Gramophone ECSD-2377; 1968
6Jazz Yatra Sextett: Jangam; Eigelstein ES-2016; 1981 (Germany)
7The Alan Lorber Orchestra: The Lotus Palace; Verve V6-8711 (w/Vinnie Bell)
7Pat Martino: Baiyina (The Clear Evidence); Prestige 7589; 1968
John Mayer: Indo Jazz Fusions; Disques Somethin' Else; 1969 (France; also as Indo-Jazz Etudes; Sonet)
8Bill Plummer & his Cosmic Brotherhood: Journey to the East; Impulse A-9164; 1968
7Vasant Rai: Spring Flowers; Vanguard VSD-79379; 1976
6Rajesh: Intricate Fusion--Explorations in Musical Syntheses; OM; 1982
9Emil Richards & the Microtonal Blues Band: Journey to Bliss; Impulse A-9166; 1968
9Emil Richards & the Microtonal Blues Band: Spirit of 1976 (Live at Donte's); Impulse A-9182; 1969
6Tony Scott: Music for Yoga Meditation & Other Joys; Verve V6-8742
5Gabor Szabo: Jazz Raga; Impulse A-9128; 1966


Partly Indo-Jazz LPs

Rating
8Brother Ahh: Move Ever Onward; Divine/Sound Awareness DVN-52134A; 1975 (Robert Northern)
8Arica; 1971 (NYC meditation group; exotic/out/psyche/sitar)
9Arica; 1972 (2-LP)
7S.D. Burman: Gambler ST; Polydor H-2392-008
7Don Ellis: Electric Bath; Columbia CS-9585 ("Turkish Bath")
7Bobbye Hall: Body Language for Lovers (w/Dorothy Ashby); 20th Century T-534; 1977
7Jayson Lindh: Ramadan; CTI/Metronome DIX-3000; 1971 (Sweden; "Tuppa")
6Charlie Mariano: Mirror; Atlantic SD-1608; 1972
6Freddie McCoy: Soul Yogi; Prestige PR-7561; 1968
8Mahavishnu John McLaughlin: My Goals Beyond; Douglas 9; 1970 (Side 1)
8Dave Pike: [Nothing...]; MPS; 1969 ("Mathar")
8Dave Pike Set: Infra-Red ("Raga Jeeva Swara"); MPS/BASF 20739; 1972
8Dave Pike Set: Riff for Rent; MPS/BASF MC-25112; 1972 ("Greater Kalesh No. 48")
8Phil Ranelin: Vibes from the Tribe; Tribe; 1976/1975 ("He the One We All Knew": soul-jazz horns/spiritual soul jazz/Indo-jazz; Hefty TRCD-4008; 2001)
7Wally Richardson: Soul Guru; Fantasy/Prestige 7569; 1968 ("Soul Guru"; Ace/BGPD-1113)
8Lalo Schifrin: Lalo=Brilliance; Roulette Birdland SR-52088 ("Kush"; Mid-East jazz/bossa/Indo-jazz)
5Ravi Shankar: Charly ST; World Pacific WPS-21454; 1968 (w/Emil Richards, Bill Plummer)
9Charanjit Singh: Laxmikant Pyarelal Present LP of Hindi Film Songs; EMI/Odeon/India Gramophone S/MOCE-4219; 1978 (funky bass, steel guitar, transicord--electronic accordion)
5Gabor Szabo: His Great Hits; Impulse AS-9204- 2 (3 from Jazz Raga)
7Cal Tjader: Several Shades of Jade; Verve V6-8507; 1963 ("The Fakir"; also on The Best of Cal Tjader; Verve V6-8725)
9Uncredited: [Background Music] 10"; Audio BMP-134; 1968 (production; "Rhythmic Variations")


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