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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

Baluji Shrivastav & Re-Orient

By Matt Cibula
Published March 16, 2007

Baluji Shrivastav & Re-Orient
ARC Music 1982

Baluji Shrivastav is one hell of a musician. He anchors this world-jazz trio, which also includes his wife Linda Shanovitch on vocals and Chris Conway on various instruments, with mean, clean sitar lines, doubling on tabla and other percussion instruments. This sounds pretty cutesy and unambitious, and the disc is always teetering on the brink of falling into that tar pit. But it manages to stay on the good side, because Shrivastav has found a way to integrate Western-sounding hooks into raga compositions like “Blessings” and “Spirit Of Joy.” Shanovitch’s “Latin” tune, “Fruit,” is pretty awful, but Conway’s Brazilian/Bulgarian piece “The Seven Wonders” stands up for itself. Special guests, like trumpeter Guy Barker and Hossam Ramzy on various Egyptian percussion instruments, give the tracks a little space. But it is the warmth and good humor of the basic trio, and of Shrivastav's musical vision, that make this album worth investigating.