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Rudresh Mahanthappa featuring Kadri Gopalnath: Kinsmen

Make no mistake, Kinsmen is a stylish and evocative blend of indigenous art forms, an extraordinarily successful East-meets-West experiment, and the most stimulating world/jazz soundclash since Ornette Coleman jammed in Jajouka. Altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa is a driving force in contemporary jazz, and his Indian-American heritage factors strongly into this alliance with Kadri Gopalnath, a renowned South Indian alto saxophone master who pioneered playing the classical music of his region (Carnatic) on his instrument.

In these hands, the distance between two musical worlds doesn’t seem so vast. Both men know their way around their altos and have different styles, but they also enjoy an emotive affinity that allows them to settle on common ground. The raga-type sequences of their compositions open up a wide but exacting tableau for improvisation, and Mahanthappa and Gopalnath engage in some beautiful counterpoint and unison playing, as well as passionate bits of call-and-response.

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