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Various Artists: Kambara Music in Native Tongues

Over the past several years, the venturesome cultural experimental laboratory that is the label called Waterlily Acoustics has brought together East and West musicians into mostly happy mergers. In particular, V.M. Bhatt, the virtuoso of the mohan vina (a revised slide guitar), found provocative paths to interaction with Ry Cooder and banjoist Bela Fleck. The latest Waterlily blend involves folk guitarist-singer Martin Simpson; Los Lobos member David Hidalgo on bajo sexto, vocals and accordion; Viji Krishnan on violin and vocals; and Puvalar Srinivasan on mridangam. Included in the song list on Kambara Music in Native Tongues (Waterlily 63; 41:47) are Richard Thompson’s “Waltzing for Dreamers” and Merl Haggard’s “The Running Kind,” sung with Hidalgo’s bittersweet wail of a voice, flecked by the Carnatic-blues melismas of Krishnan’s violin asides. The album, according to producer Kavi Alexander on the back cover notes, is “dedicated to the architects of rock and roll,” which gives clear indication of which end of the East-West pole is favored here. Nonetheless, these meetings must continue, for the sake of aesthetic universality. It all comes together in a joining of hearts and harmonies.

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