Tuesday, October 8, 2002



New CD serves up tasty dish
of South Asian music

"Asian Groove"
Various artists
Putumayo World Music

A tasty sampler of specifically South Asian music, focusing on the contemporary sounds of India and Pakistan, with a side venture into Central Asia and the country of Uzbekistan. You have to get through the first four tracks into this compilation (bearing through a couple of standard urban R&B takes in Punjabi) before you hit pay dirt, and the good quality of music is sustained through the remainder of "Asian Groove."

DJ Baba G and Dan the Automator add some well-placed scratches and a thumping drum and clavinet sample to their previously unreleased remix of Badar Ali Khan's "Black Night." Badar is the cousin of the late, great qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and his impassioned vocalizing, combined with gently played hand percussion and said remixing, make for an intriguing listen.

The smartly arranged "Awake" by Mungal and Nitin Sawhney integrates the sitar better than the earlier track, "Remember Tomorrow" by Mo' Horizons, with its high, trebly pitch melded with a drum-and-bass groove. The virtuosic bansuri (classical bamboo flute) player Deepak Ram lends a charming "A Night in Lenasia," named in honor of his South African community home.

Dance grooves predominate on this compilation's last two tracks: the masterful Bally Sagoo seamlessly spins buoyant funk with a classic Bollywood vocal on "Noorie," and Kam Dhillion processes his voice through a vocoder (ala Roger Troutman of Zapp) in a pretty cool combo of hip-hop and traditional Punjabi bhangra on "Aankh Naal."

ALSO NEW: "Live," Ben Folds; "Bounce," Bon Jovi; "I Found Love," Gregory Isaacs; "Power in Numbers," Jurassic 5; "Clone," Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon (of Phish); "Sean Nós Nua," Sinéad O'Connor; "The Last DJ," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; "Priceless," Kelly Price

Gary C.W. Chun

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