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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Deepak Ram

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published April 16, 2008

Golden Horn

The flute is nothing new in the world of jazz—Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Charles Lloyd and many others have explored its possibilities for decades. But the Indian bansuri flute, the bamboo instrument said to be the personal choice of Lord Krishna— well, that’s not something that often turns up in jazz. Deepak Ram is a South African with one foot in the Indian subcontinent and the other in America’s greatest indigenous art form, but the rhythmic sensibilities of his homeland seep into everything he does. Working here with a trio of Vic Juris on guitar, Tony Marino on bass and Jamey Haddad on drums, Ram keeps the mood light and airy. This isn’t hard bop or free jazz, to be sure. It’s patently smooth, but also skillfully executed and rich in coloration and texture. On his original songs as well as the standards—which run the gamut from the Gershwins’ “Summertime” and Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” to Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” (inspiring Ram’s choice of album title) and Miles Davis’s “All Blues”— Ram coaxes his instrument into places it has likely never touched before and will now surely want to visit again.