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Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/V. Selvaganesh Kanjeera: Good People In Times of Evil

What may seem odd on paper makes more sense in sonic terms: the trio of bassist Jonas Hellborg, guitarist Shawn Lane and virtuosic South Indian udu player V. Selvaganesh Kanjeera works up a kind of sensitive fury in the zone where Indo-jazz-rock and cross-cultural ambient concepts meet. John McLaughlin (with whom Hellborg played way back when) has been here before, the mixture of fusion and classical Indian materials. In the case of this group, it comes in the form of harmonic vocabulary from rock, and rhythms that lean towards the suppleness and intricacy from the Carnatic side of things. On Good People in Times of Evil, they navigate tight unison lines and odd meters, as heard on the opening “Aga of the Ladies”-a kind of moody Indo-prog rock outing-and the high-energy “Who Would You Like to Be?” An interesting delineation surfaces, as the Swedish Lane and the American Hellborg dispense riffs, and Selvaganesh dispenses something else, a thorough musicality that dazzles through textural variety and technical mastery. Sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan’s cameo on “Bhakti Ras” is a refreshing addition of a bowed, long-toned instrument in a setting where plucking (and rapid nimble plucking at that), otherwise rules.

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