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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

Sunny Jain Collective

By John Kuhlman
Published March 16, 2007


The latest album of Indo-fusion music by this drummer-led combo finds them attempting to combine modern jazz with pan-Indian sounds from Mr. Jain's South Asian heritage. It's a talented group, capable of some admirable genre-mixing, as in the switch from a tight bebop riff to a lazy, sitar-guitar driven groove on "Meri Bhavana" or the smooth, upbeat reading of the Bollywood tune "Awaara Hoon." But too often, the jazz stylings are too lightweight to generate any real heat: the sax player plods when he should be soaring, the guitar player meanders somewhat aimlessly when he's soloing, and, frankly, putting a drum solo on the first track of an album is like asking the listener to pick you up at the airport. Maybe they're at their best when backing the sweet, smoky vocals of Samita Sinha, whose traditional techniques bring a focus and authority that some of the instrumental tracks lack.