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November 2004

Sunny Jain Collective
Mango Festival
Zoho

On Mango Festival (Zoho), drummer Sunny Jain combines his South Asian ethnic roots with his jazz studies at Rutgers University under the tutelage of Kenny Barron and Ted Dunbar. Jain has arrived at an intriguing amalgam that alternately swings in straight 4/4 fashion and mesmerizes while injecting bits of Indian music along the way. Most successful and provocative are his arrangements of the South Asian pop song "Aap Jaisa Koi" and the traditional bhajan popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, "Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram," both of which feature Rez Abbasi making effective use of the sitar-guitar. Elsewhere, as on tenor saxophonist Steve Welsh's "MTA" and Jain's "Horizontal Pathway," Abbasi brings a warm-toned legato flow to guitar lines that bear the influence of such six-string masters as Allan Holdsworth and Pat Martino. Abbasi takes a more angular path on his own "Blu Vindaloo," then unleashes some sizzling sitar-guitar on an edgy interpretation of Wayne Shorter's haunting "Masqualero" from Miles Davis' Sorcerer. And powering it all with shifting tempos, a vast array of percussive colors and rhythmic aplomb is bandleader Jain, bringing worlds together in seamless fashion. Mango Festival is a fresh concept with brilliant execution.

Originally published in November 2004
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