Over the course of their respective careers, famed percussionists Trilok Gurtu and Simon Phillips have travelled down very dissimilar musical paths and yet the desire to make music together has burned strong for quite some time. The Indian born Gurtu has worked largely within the world music and jazz fusion framework, collaborating with the likes of John McLaughlin, Bill Laswell, Joe Zawinul and Oregon, while the London bred, session man, Phillips has played on records and toured the arena rock circuit with The Who, MSG, Gary Moore and Mike Oldfield, to name just a few. With the expansive sound of Germany's NDR Big Band behind them, the duo comes together to create a diverse and at times contrasting sounding musical pallet, entitled 21 Spices.
Titled after the number of musicians involved in the project, 21 Spices consists of seven compositions and is a mix of studio and live recordings done in 2010. Rounded out by bassist Michel Alibo and guitarist Roland Cabezas, both Phillips and Gurtu take their craft to a whole other level on this eclectic sounding musical summit. Phillips provides the rock muscle and jazz infused chops, while Gurtu sprinkles the music with his unique blend of tablas and traditional, western drums. It all ties together brilliantly on the multi-faceted "Peace Of Five", the big band dominated "1-2 Beaucoup" and the funky, world / fusion vibe that permeates throughout "Kuruk Setra" and "Jhulelal". The disc concludes with the shimmering title track which once again finds the NDR Big Band taking center stage with their massive sounding horn section. The song climbs and dives as Phillips and Gurtu provide the rhythmic muscle and colorful percussive accents underneath the blazing trumpet and saxophone solos. All in all a fabulous way to conclude what is truly a magical listening experience from top to bottom.
21 Spices is the kind of recording that will reveal something different with each listen, as there are just so many different layers and textures within the music for the listener to peel back and discover. This is one meeting that was well worth the wait and judging by the music presented on this disc, I would be very surprised if the collaboration ended here.
1) Peace Of Five
2) 1-2 Beaucoup
3) Kuruk Setra
5) Broken Rhythms
7) 21 Spices