Day to Day is Jazz in Migration | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 18, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 18, 2016

Day to Day is Jazz in Migration

Yes, Day to Day is an album about migration and mixing, about life lived each day at a time. These are true statements, but first and foremost it is a beautiful thing to listen to.

Day to Day is brought to us by Sarathy Korwar who is a jazz composer, a producer and percussionist with experience of life lived in three countries (the USA, India and the UK – specifically London, a world in itself.) Any competent musician with such a background can be trusted to create something at least interesting, if they can avoid the trappings of generic fusion sounds.

What makes Day to Day stand out is what went into its recording. Sarathy Korwar spent time among the Siddis, a group of Indo-Pakistani Sufis descended from the Bantu of Southeast Africa. Field-recordings of a troupe of Siddi musicians provide both the structure around which Day to Day is built and also half of the album's soul. The body of the music is provided by Korwar's friends – a guitarist, a pianist and a bassist – who were in India at the same time as him. Their relaxed recording sessions at Korwar's Pune home, alongside Korwar's percussions, surround and complement the organic sound of the Siddi troupe. 

There is a timeless, universal quality to the music, not least because the Siddi often sing in the Swahili of their ancestors, a language whose words they no longer understand. Listen to the opening track, 'Bhajan', as the singer's plaintive calls are joined out of nowhere by a flamenco guitar and the track bursts open into the beautiful, meandering performances that only happy jazz musicians can play. New sounds join the fray as Korwar reveals just how much is on his palette: the train recording on 'Mawra' is such a flourish. Every note is carefully picked, played and brought to your attention by Korwar's production; there is never a dull moment.

A listener would be forgiven for thinking, into the second track, that this sound and this quality could not be maintained for 40 whole minutes. More promising albums have been quicker to turn stale. No fear, for Korwar maps the tracks out with a great care, showing a sense of pacing that is often neglected by musicians who can only think about making each track great in isolation. While there are inevitably a few stand-out winners, each composition shows Korwar doing something interesting with the variety of sounds at his disposal. Just check out the murky tablas on 'Lost Parade'. You only put something like that in if you have ambitions.

Jazz and Sufi devotionals are two things that would never naturally inhabit the same space; Korwar's genius is in making the merge sound not only natural but inevitable.

Zoheb Mashiur is a prematurely balding man with bad facial hair and so does his best to avoid people. Ruin his efforts by writing to zoheb.mashiur@gmail.com

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