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Ragatal Pulse Tower Records magazine. U S A (April 1999)

Indo-Jazz Fusions

During the 1960's, British Indian-jazz fusion was spearheaded by an ensemble called Indo-Jazz Fusions (released on Atlantic in the U.S. and now reissued by Polygram / Redial in the U.K.) in much the way that Don Ellis and the Hindustani Jazz Sextet wrote the book stateside. The Jamiacan jazz saxophonist Joe Harriott and the keyboardist and Calcutta-born violinist John Mayer fronted them. Ragatal is the 1998 Mayer-led incarnation of the ensemble (Harriott died in 1973 and Shake Keane, the band's trumpeter, in 1997). It spills over with ideas, excellently realized by a 10-piece ensemble. Two pieces, "Partita" and "Multani" (recorded on the 1967 album), are reprised. The new blood captures an Indian flow of ideas, melodic and metrical (the raga and taal of the title), in a far more accomplished fashion than their earlier namestake which, to generalize, swung more (as in practiced less). The joy at having Mayer back and, with his son Jonathan on sitar, is immeasurable.

Jonathan Webster: Classic CD magazine (December 1998)

Indian-jazz fusion bands are not exactly falling out of the trees, so it's heartening to know this sorry gap in the recorded repertoire is about to be filled. Indo-Jazz Fusions is the ensemble directed by John Mayer who is currently professor of composition and Composer-in-Residence at Birmingham Conservatoire.
John Mayer picture from Classic CD
John Mayer: the king of Indo-Jazz fusions
Mayer has campaigned all his life against what he calls "musical apartheid", and as the name suggests what John aims for and gets is a seamless fusion between the Indian and jazz traditions. With the exception of his tabla player, Haqinder Matharu, all the other musicians on Ragatal are white but seem to have an uncannily inherent understanding of both traditions.
Although the music swings and sounds free-wheeling it is actually pretty tightly structured. It is all scored, and improvisation happens in such a way that the player is reminded of the notes of the raga which holds each piece together. Some of the music actually uses the notes of a raga, and some adopts ideas from one. No.5 (Miyan ki Mathar) written by Indo-Jazz's keyboardist Steve Tromans, manages to go one step better and sound western, Indian and Latin all at the same time.

The players are astonishingly virtuosic from Mayer's son, Jonathan, on the sitar to Anna Brooks playing a sexy saxophone. An intoxicating mix ...(****)

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