Such Sweet Thunder
I’m not a person who normally gives two hoots about the technical aspects of a recording session. I agree, perhaps simply on principal, that analog beats the pants off of digital, but after that, forget it. Still, a light went off in my head upon reading that Hindustan was recorded digitally and then put through an analog board and finalized with a tube amplifier from the 1950s. It explains how the disc manages to capture the snap and crackle of David Berger’s 15-piece band with clarity that doesn’t sanitize the live-in-the-room feeling.
Of course, Berger and his Sultans are largely responsible for this, too. Recorded in Sweden between dates on a European tour, they play a book of predominantly original material that is scored to spotlight particular players. Berger, the arranger and conductor for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra during its first six years, evokes Thelonious Monk in a larger setting on “Monkey Business” and in punchy ensemble exchanges on “Bumper Cars.” The title track combines an exotic, almost Sun Ra-like arrangement with some amusing exchanges between the horns and drummer Jimmy Madison. Vocalist Aria Hendricks is a strong singer, but her three tracks don’t quite measure up to the rest of the set.