Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Brian Shankar Adler: Fourth Dimension (Chant)

A review of the percussionist/composer's seventh album as a leader

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Brian Shankar Adler, Fourth Dimension
The cover of Fourth Dimension by Brian Shankar Adler

Chant Records, run by John Zorn protégés and avant-jazz heads Jon Madof and Shanir Blumenkranz, calls itself “a sonic temple for adventurous music.” So far in its fruitful two-year run, Chant’s output has run a wildly eclectic gamut from Jewish traditional music, surf, prog, doom metal, and Afrobeat to free jazz, hip-hop, and Middle Eastern folk.

That outside-the-box ethos continues with Fourth Dimension, the eye-opening seventh record as leader from ace percussionist and composer Brian Shankar Adler. Leading a locked-in group made up of vibraphonist Matt Moran, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, bassist Rob Jost, and pianist/keyboardist Santiago Leibson, Adler heads for a fertile zone where Indian classical music, avant-garde jazz, and rock elements meet.

The time Adler spent living in an ashram as a child clearly has played a crucial role in fostering the spirituality that shimmers from these 11 finely crafted pieces. Their world-centric explorations conjure both Alice Coltrane-like trance-jazz and the shredding guitar of Nels Cline. Adler is a polyrhythmic force, capable of both heavy-hitting and feather-light precision, and his momentum always seems to be shifting with unpredictable flourishes. Moran’s vibes are a revelation throughout the program, as is Goldberger’s guitar wizardry, evidenced by standout tracks like “Mantra” and “Rudram.” Meanwhile, Leibson shines on the angelic “Windy Path” and the playful “Watertown.”

With a penchant for compositions that are mind-bendingly complex and New York City gritty yet still somehow capable of evoking the delicacy of a summer breeze, Brian Shankar Adler shows he’s a bandleader on the rise.

Preview, buy or download Fourth Dimension on Amazon!

Are you a musician or jazz enthusiast? Sign up for our weekly newsletter, full of reviews, profiles and more!