Aakash Mittal Quartet, Tatsu Aoki's Shamisen Jazz Venture | International | Chicago Reader

Aakash Mittal Quartet, Tatsu Aoki's Shamisen Jazz Venture All Ages Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Oct. 21, 9:30 p.m. 2011

Following in the footsteps of saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, 26-year-old Colorado reedist Aakash Mittal has devoted significant energy connecting post-bop and Indian classical music using a key common thread—improvisation. Mittal applies a slew of approaches and concepts to this stylistic marriage with varying results on his most recent release, 2009's Videsh (AMM). Solo opener "Subah" is based on a Hindustani morning raga, while "The Street" is a high-velocity number that's more impressionistic. The latter tune takes inspiration from the sonic chaos of urban New Delhi, with field recordings of the city interspersed amid lightning-fast sax and electric guitar lines—performed by Mittal and Matt Fuller, respectively—played in unison; their zigzagging instrumentation suggests an especially crazed sitar solo during the climax of a traditional raga far more than a standard bebop head. Mittal loosely based "Hindustani Song II" on parts of the Raag Bihag after he saw a performance by celebrated dhrupad singers the Gundecha Brothers, who are masters at trading related, quicksilver-paced phrases; Mittal achieves a similar effect with Fuller, trading and overlapping them atop a funky backbeat. His rhythm section—bassist Jean-Luc Davis and drummer Josh Moore—doesn't bother with the elaborate rhythmic cycles of Indian classical music. Still, Davis and Moore are a nimble pair; they can stop on a dime within the leader's tempo-shifting compositions, and they deliver steamroller energy on the most extroverted pieces. A few ballads may veer dangerously close to schmaltz, but that shouldn't speak to the capacity of the young Mittal, who is one to watch. The performance is part of this year's Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. —Peter Margasak Tatsu Aoki's Shamisen Jazz Venture headlines.

Price: $12

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