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Miles From India

Bob Belden

One of the most audacious and brilliantly crafted concept albums of the year became one of the most eagerly anticipated concert events of the year when Miles From India received its world premiere before an enthusiastic crowd at Town Hall on a rainy Friday night in May. Jointly conceived by producer Bob Belden and visionary record executive Yusuf Gandhi, the ambitious two-CD set on Gandhi’s Times Square Records is a wildly successful cross-cultural celebration of Miles’ music that brought together several of India’s foremost instrumentalists with various Miles alumni who appeared on such groundbreaking recordings as Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew, On the Corner and Agharta, as well as latter-day outings like 1981’s The Man With the Horn and 1986’s Tutu. As Belden wrote in the album’s liner notes, which were also used as the program notes for this Town Hall gala, “I mused about what it would sound like if you could do Miles compositions with Indian musicians, and Yusuf turned to me, smiled and said, ‘Miles From India.’ That was the germination for this project-a simple thought and a smile.”

While the mixed crew on hand at Town Hall was a scaled-down version of the sprawling lineup that appears on the recording (noticeably missing from this live gig were such key Miles alumni as bassists Michael Henderson and Marcus Miller, saxophonists Dave Liebman and Gary Bartz, guitarists John McLaughlin and Mike Stern and pianist Chick Corea), the seamless arrangements by Belden and pianist Louiz Banks demonstrated how comfortably jazz and Carnatic music can co-exist.

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Originally Published