ZOE AND IDRIS RAHAM: WHERE RIVERS MEET
Thursday 9th October - Bonington Theatre
By John Watson, www.jazzcamera.co.uk
Images from this concert at http://www.jazzcamera.co.uk/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=1821
The blending of Asian music and jazz styles has produced much superb music, from the pioneering work of John Mayer's Indo-Jazz Fusions to the spectacular performances of groups including Shakti. Now the hugely-accomplished pianist Zoe Rahman and her clarinet-playing brother Idris have added a truly worthwhile project to that legacy: Where Rivers Meet. I caught the opening concert of their UK tour on October 9, at the Bonington Theatre in Arnold, Nottinghamshire, where the organisation Jazz Steps presents leading British and international stars.
It was a remarkable and heartfelt performance, for these were musical rivers of many moods - at times tranquil, at times turbulent. The group, which has released a new CD to coincide with the tour, was completed by Zoe's regular bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo, plus percussionist Kuljit Bhamra, violinist Samy Bishai, and singer Gaurob.
Zoe's performances always combine expert musical technique with a great sense of joy, and this was no exception. Idris has a warm, creamy tone on clarinet, and is a remarkably focussed improviser, while violinist Bishai played with such intensity that he practically shredded the hairs from his bow.
Gaurob's passionate vocals added an authentic Bengali touch to the performance. Zoe says she speaks very little Bengali, despite her family background, and joked that "making the new CD was a sneaky way of learning the language". The close integration of Bishai's traditional percussion instruments with Calderazzo's driving jazz drumming added a great deal to the success of the music.