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

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Prasanna: Be the Change

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.

Prasanna, a Berklee alumnus of South Indian origin, displays formidable guitar chops and compositional ambitions on Be the Change, focusing on difficult, polished jazz-rock fusion with pronounced Indian characteristics. Playing acoustic and electric guitars, Prasanna enlists the rhythm section services of Victor Wooten and Alphonso Johnson on bass and Derico Watson and Ralph Humphrey on drums. Reedists Jeff Coffin and Andy Suzuki join on a number of cuts, and Shalini makes two appearances singing Sanskrit verses. Prasanna himself croons the motivational lyrics to “Satyam,” exhibiting his mastery of konnakol (Indian vocal percussion).

Prasanna’s take on Indian-influenced jazz is quite different from John McLaughlin’s-or anyone else’s. Whether he’s cranking his Les Paul or caressing his Alvarez Yairi, he colors his jazz-savvy lines with a distinctly non-Western quarter-tone phraseology and sitarlike embellishment. The effect is disarming, especially on fusion tracks like “The Grapevine” and “Uncensored,” which are otherwise fairly conventional. “Ragabop,” an acoustic tour de force, rises above the more slickly produced electric tracks, suggesting a gritty, natural blend of idioms that could gain Prasanna wide recognition.

For those familiar with Prasanna’s hypnotic electric guitar work in a Carnatic (South Indian classical) setting, the more pop-oriented aesthetic of Be the Change could be jarring. But the album, despite its unevenness, is anchored by a substantive and highly promising talent.