Arun Ghosh

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Reviews of Arun Ghosh


28/01/2010 Ivan Hewett

Arun Ghosh at Pizza Express Jazz Club, review
The British Asian jazz clarinettist delivers an evening of music-making at once no-nonsense, thrilling and beautiful. Rating: * * * *

Encounters between Indian and Western music tend to be weighed down by lots of self-important twaddle about "fusing musical cultures". It's typified by musicians such as the violinist L Subramaniam, who modestly entitled his first album Global Fusion, and Nitin Sawhney, who likes to play with a giant image of the globe projected behind him.

Thank God jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh doesn't take himself so seriously. He just does his thing, which given his mixed cultural formation is a completely natural blending of many different elements. He studied clarinet at the Royal Northern College of Music, but quickly decided the life of an orchestral musician wasn't for him. Being a natural improviser, he started to blend the jazz idioms he'd encountered in British jazz musicians like Courtney Pine with the Indian idioms he'd imbibed at home, and soon gathered a quintet of like-minded musicians around him.

Their music has been dubbed "Indo-Jazz", but when Ghosh came on in his long yellow silk chemise and poured out a long soulful melody with a deep thrumming vibrato, I was immediately reminded of something else entirely -Jewish klezma.

Like klezma musicians, Ghosh loves the deep chalumeau register of the clarinet, but often his melody line soars ecstatically to the very top of the clarinet's range. But though the slow melancholy note was often struck, it never lasted long, because Ghosh is so irrepressibly cheerful.

He's a willowy, puckish man, with a naughty grin and long romantic-poet hair which he keeps having to brush out of his eyes. He cracks jokes in his broad Yorkshire accent, paces about with barely suppressed energy, and shouts instructions to the band in a way that's startling to anyone used to the quiet, subliminal signals of jazz musicians. At one point he slipped a phrase from Somewhere over the Rainbow into an ecstatic "Eastern" number, which sent his friends in the audience into fits of laughter.

Entwined with Ghosh's tremulous clarinet we heard the more conventionally jazz-like "soulfulness" of Idris Rahman's tenor sax, while the hectic repeated riffs of bass clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings, bassist Liran Donan and drummer Pat Illingworth gave the music a tremendous on-rushing energy.

When in full flow the three wind instruments made a marvellously harsh sound tinged with all kinds of memories. Balkan wedding bands, the dancing, loose-limbed melodies of Bengali folk music and New Orleans bands were all there. It was uproarious, and irresistible.



20/07/2008 Mike Butler, Metro

A listen to Northern Namaste, the debut album from Arun Ghosh, prompts the question: what is this fiery music and where does it come from? The idiom is Indo-jazz, the meeting point of Indian classical music and modal jazz. The pioneers were Joe Harriott, a West Indian saxophonist, and John Mayer, a Calcutta-born violinist/composer, establishing its multicutural credentials from the first.

Ghosh, in his own words, was 'conceived in Calcutta, bred in Bolton, matured in Manchester and currently lives in London'. The music, variously delicate and rousing, reflects the profusion, the contradiction and the exhilaration of multicultural urbanity. His clarinet positively entrances with the bright, clear tone and graceful melody. The same serene agility is evident in his onstage gyrations. If the album can't convey the full physical presence of Ghosh in person, it's as close as the medium permits.

Rhythm is the thing with his Indo-Jazz Sextet, as Nilesh Gulhane's tabla patterns are subsumed by the street grooves of the mighty Myke Wilson. With a claim to being the funkiest drummer in Manchester, Wilson here supplements a steady beat with a continuous roll of accents and multiple rhythms. It would be unbelievably funky if it wasn't so exotic. Idris Rahman on tenor saxophone plays in unison with Arun. What harmony there is is provided by Kishon Khan on piano and, unusually, Sylvan Richardson on six-string bass.


14/06/2008 Ken Hunt (Jazzwise)

Like Northern Namaste (Camoci Records CAMOC1001, 2008), Ghosh’s debut album, the Arun Ghosh Sextet opened with Aurora. Unlike the recording, the piece did not fade out. Over the course of this wondrous calling card, Aurora included clarinet solos and melodic consolidations from Ghosh himself, a tenor sax break from Idris Rahman (no slipping from soprano to tenor for him) and a piano solo from Kishon Khan. The second piece, Longsight Lagoon - Longsight being a district in Manchester - came across as a fun piece to play, replete with possibilities. On it, in modal terms and inflections Khan’s piano was definitely more Aziza Mustafa Zadeh than V. Balsara or Jnan Prakash Ghosh. To translate more Azerbaijani modal than Indian. Deshkar (’helpfully’ illuminated by Ghosh’s “an Indian scale from India”) and Bondhu (derived from Bengali boatmen’s folksong) preceded the blast-away Uterine - another birth reference - one of the top-notch compositions in his portfolio. The Sextet’s other musicians were Liran Donin on double-bass, the standing Nilesh Gulhane on tabla and fellow Mancunian Dave Walsh on kit drums and percussion, especially on Deshkar (Love In The Morning). Over 45 minutes or whatever it was, Ghosh displayed extraordinary charisma and musicianship and a consistently riveting compositional skill, born out of composing for theatre. The sextet proved its worth over and over again. When there was a sound glitch with Donin’s amp at the beginning of Uterine (one to hear before you die), piano, tenor and drums covered in such a way that if you had had your eyes closed it would have sounded as if was just Indo-jazz vamping into an introduction.



04/06/2008 John Fordham, The Guardian

Young Manchester-raised clarinetist Arun Ghosh's group played a much more upfront mix of south Asian melodies and western street-grooves, driven by a powerful Indo-western rhythm section including drummer Dave Walsh and freewheeling Led Bib bassist Liran Donin. The horns stayed close to the themes, so the improv flexibility was mainly in the pulse (though pianist Kishon Khan often pulled the jubilantly whooping tunes toward jazzier ambiguities) which gave this engaging band both a melodic accessibility and an edge. Ghosh, rocking on his feet, looked like a charismatic figure with a future.


22/05/2008 Chris Parker, The Vortex

'Original music of South Asian origin with a contemporary jazz attitude' was promised and delivered by Mancunian Arun Ghosh's sextet, spearheaded by his powerful clarinet and Idris Rahman's pleasantly breathy tenor, decorated by Kishon Khan's delicate but robust piano, and driven by bassist Liran Donin, tabla player Aref Durvesh and drummer Pat Illingworth.

Playing material from Ghosh's debut Camoci album, Northern Namaste, the band, typically, would state a rolling, lively theme over a repeated bass figure, then explore it via the solo round in the conventional jazz manner, but their overall sound was anything but conventional, consisting of a vibrant mix of alternately snaking and piercing clarinet, chiming and rippling piano, understated but none the less effective tenor, hypnotically booming bass and rattling, chattering percussion.

Ghosh himself is the perfect front man, forthright and funny in his stage announcements but patently serious about his exhilarating, multi-textured, rousing music, which Ð like much contemporary jazz uncontrivedly mixes music from a specific and readily identifiable tradition with improvisation to produce something fiercely original yet wholly accessible.



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