Paban Das Baul and Jonny Wartel
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Paban Das Baul and Jonny Wartel
Gravitation, Sweden (

cd cover In the wake of the highly successful collaboration of Swedish fiddler Ellika Frissell and Senegalese kora player Solo Cissokho (whose Tretakt Takissaba (MNW/Xource) won the 2003 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in the 'boundary crossing' category) comes another set of Nordic connections, this time with Bengali singer Paban Das Baul and an ensemble of Swedish jazz musicians led by saxophonist Jonny Wartel. Their eponymous recording is a free jazz monster, another sprawling, boundary breaking experiment that was laid down in live takes in the studio, and as a result ranges from highly successful clashes of titan chops to some aimless noodling that barely gets a groove going.

Fortunately, the latter is a tiny fragment of an otherwise engaging recording by a group of musicians who barely knew each other when they started. Paban and Wartel met in Bengal when the saxophonist was travelling about, and they played together there, but the rest of the pack (Andreas Wartel on trumpet, Gunnar Backman on guitars and electronics, Mimlu Sen's finger cymbals, Per-Arne Pettersson on bass and Henrik Wartel on drums) more or less met for the first time at the recording sessions. Hence, my utter respect for the musicianship involved in their completely sympathetic renderings of these nine varied and beautifully performed pieces. It's not for those looking for a folk connection, as it tends towards all out jazz energy, but it nonetheless proves the powerful force that music can be in bridging the otherwise mundane gaps of language and geography. - CF

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Audio ©2003 Gravitation, Sweden, used by permission

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