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Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra: India & Africa: A Tribute to John Coltrane

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The music John Coltrane created during his final years was quite often driven by his embracement of Eastern spirituality and his African cultural roots. Here, drummer-percussionist Anthony Brown, via his 16-piece ensemble, reimagines several of Trane’s richest ’60s compositions that fall into that particular niche of his work, augmenting them with a few pieces of original music that unobtrusively tie the original themes together. Splitting the program into halves he titles “India: Diaspora” and “Suite: Africa,” Brown, who has previously recorded tributes to Ellington and Monk, recorded the bulk of the program live at Yoshi’s in Oakland last April.

It must have been as much a visual feast as a musical one. Whereas Coltrane used only standard jazz instrumentation, Brown, for the Indian segment of the set, incorporates several instruments common to traditional Indian music (sarod, tabla, tambura), as well as shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and sheng (Chinese mouth organ). African percussion supplements Western trap drums in part two.

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