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Shweta Jhaveri: Anahita

Attempting to blend the ancient wisdom and contemplativeness of Hindustani music with jazz is a natural instinct. It has produced numerous experiments of varying artistic merit, but sometimes things get lost or blurred in the cultural translation. The blend achieved on Anahita, featuring Indian classical vocalist Shweta Jhaveri, is a mostly successful East-West handshake that grows on you the more you listen.

It’s a case of putting a masterful vocalist in atypical, ambient-musical garb: Producer Lee Townsend brought together guitarist Will Bernard (in surprisingly cool, textural form, with some graceful slide guitar turns), drummer Jim Kassis, bassist Bill Douglass and violinist Jenny Scheinman to lay down the fabric over which Jhaveri exercises her supple, masterful art.

Jhaveri’s songs are based on traditional North Indian rags, but they depart westward. Scheinman’s violin, a sound that is heard in the Hindustani context, offers a sympathetic foil. The feel can be percolating (“To a Beloved”) to devotional (“A Nosey Dawn”).

Purist skepticism is effectively worn down by the emotionally deep weave of Anahita’s end result.

Originally Published