This entire second-half run has a sustained momentum that lends the listening...
Martin Longley 2008
Arun Ghosh has arrived, seemingly from obscurity, with this winning debut disc. His background flies from Calcutta to London, with some Bolton and Manchester experiences in-between. But rather than being a Nitin Sawhney successor, Ghosh is closer in feel to Gilad Atzmon in the way he chooses elements from his heritage culture and then pushes them through a jazz vortex. He gives equal attention to clarinet and piano, playing both simultaneously, for most of the time. If 'spiritual' jazz does indeed exist, then maybe Ghosh can float inside its realms. His is a calmer evocation, more along the lines of Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders (the latter when in a more inward state). The core combo is augmented by Aref Durvesh (dholak and bayan drums), Corey Mwamba (vibraphone) and, most frequently, Idris Rahman (tenor saxophone).
The opening Aurora track is set to appear on Gilles Peterson's next Brownswood Bubblers compilation, so a target audience is already in place. Even so, this album will have strong appeal in the mainline jazz and global camps too. Ghosh's compositions are imbued with a sense of exoticism, but no strict geographical source. His very vocal clarinet escalations have roots in a streamlined version of the shehnai reed-flute tradition, though Arun is probably just as likely to be influenced by Don Byron. The first four pieces are enjoyable enough, but something spectacular happens from the fifth track onwards. Uterine sees Ghosh ascending on a steady curve, his clarinet underpinned by Rahman's tenor. A slurred Orientalism takes over Longsight Lagoon, a slogging procession towards the sweeping Come Closer, Ghosh continuing his dance. Then, clarinet and piano are highlighted against sparse percussion and vibraphone, before a morose bass-key flourish introduces the driving finale of Greenhouse, decorated with slapping and wobbling drumheads. We're on the edges of klezmer here, oddly enough. This entire second-half run has a sustained momentum that lends the listening experience a cumulative power. Ghosh is gently intense, quietly screaming.