19 July 2009

Buddy Rich and Alla Rakha - 1968 - Rich ala Rakha

Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

For those of us living in the West, jazz drumming legend Buddy Rich is the marquee name here, although it's not particularly representative of what you're going to get with this recording. Neither is the trendy, 68' vintage psychedelic exploitation lettering gracing the cover. No, this is in fact a collaboration with the sterling Indian percussionist Alla Rakha, and it's his musical DNA that is most apparent here. Fortunately, the end result is a quite good album of classically-minded Indian music with a few jazz flourishes (although for the most part it seems that Mr. Rich is joining in with hand percussion or just a tom drum).

The first side of this album consists of a few short, percussive pieces. They are uniformly good, but the side opener and closer ("Khanda Kafi" and "Nagma E Raksh" respectively) probably deserve the most attention. It's on these tracks where Rich blasts through as a distinct jazz counterpoint. It's invigorating when his trap kit appears and is one of the more successful renditions of East/West fusion that I've heard. His entry on "Khanda Kafi" never fails to send a chill down my spine. Rakha is far from a slouch himself, providing an amazing tabla pulse for Rich to riff off of, and impressing well with his own solo moments. "Tal Sawari" takes up side two, and includes only Rakha doing impossible things with his tabla, a dim drone, and a touch of chanting. I suppose that the idea was to better introduce Rakha to a western audience, and an impressive introduction it is. As a side note, it seems that Ravi Shankar had a hand in composing and arranging a few of these tracks.

Basically a classicist Indian album with a western twist, Rich ala Rakha will never find a place alongside your typical psychedelic obscurities from the 60's, but that would probably be slumming anyway. This is first-rate music that will transport and perhaps better the mind. It more than deserves your ear and is highly recommended.


Anonymous said...


icastico said...

Hadn't heard this in a long time. It is a pretty cool record...although I always thought Joe Morello would have been a better jazz drummer for the project.


litlgrey said...

I am seriously impressed, Morello or not!

néné said...


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He is amazing, his music was and is so inspirational, it is one of my favorites musicians ever.