Monday, July 25, 2011

Pakistani Jazz Jam

I learned about the Sachal Orchestra on Public Radio International’s The World program on the way home tonight and was quite stunned at how good, accessible and appealing this unknown ensemble of struggling Pakistani musicians is – to me and, apparently, many others. Their new release has quietly become a digital download sensation on iTunes.

Despite this video being a cover of a well-known Dave Brubeck tune, it doesn’t sound remotely jazz-ish to me. No matter though, it’s awesome! And, frankly I’m a bigger world, blues and classical music fan, which this has more in common with, than I am a jazz fan. It certainly conjures up memories of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s 1995 world tour which featured a traditional Middle Eastern orchestra, The Egyptian Pharoahs, from Cairo.

The percussionist is a finger-frenzied maniac, while the sitar sounds like what Jimi Hendrix might’ve played had he really learned the instrument a la George Harrison. And those violins given it a majestic flourish. I love this! I’ll be joining the legions downloading it for sure.

It’s nice for us Westerns to get a taste of some the rich and vibrant artistic culture from this part of the world, especially in juxtaposition to the debacle and dysfunction of our usual reference points.

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