Saturday, August 9, 2008

3 albums of Indo-British jazz

Simon says :
Hi folks,
I've got major DJing going on this weekend, and a couple of half-done megaposts hanging in the air - so here are some great Indo-jazz albums ... handing you over to Bacoso and others. Have a great weekend everyone.


Bacoso says :
In 1969, the imaginative indie record producer and jazz-lover Mark Sutton, who owned his own recording studio in Soho, gathered together some of the finest session jazz musicians working in London together with husband and wife, Dev and Sitara Kumar to record a series of what we might today call "fusion". The result was "Curried Jazz". The producers for the sessions were the great Ken Barnes (find out more about him at the excellent Vinyl Vulture site) and Michael Hall. Victor Graham composed, arranged and conducted the pieces.

01. Yaman (The Colonel's Lady) - 4:47
02. Lalit (Meeting Of The Twain) - 8:32
03. Bhimpalazi (Looking Eastward To The Blues) - 9:47
04. Pahari (University Raga) - 8:07

Dev Kumar - sitar
Chris Karan - tabla
Sitara - tamboura
Ray Swinfield - flute
Kenny Wheeler - fluglehorn (1,2)
Leon Calvert - fluglehorn (3,4)
Jeff Clyne - bass
Bill Eyden - drums (1,2)
Art Morgan - drums (3,4)

Composed, arranged and conducted by Victor Graham
Produced by Ken Barnes and Michael Hall
MFP Records 1969


Bruce Eder, All Music Guide :
John Mayer was one of those multiple-threat music talents that made most other players' lives and career paths seem simple. Born in India, to Anglo-Indian parents, he studied classical music and had a successful career as an orchestral violinist, but gave it up to work as a composer and, later, in jazz fusion as a composer-violinist-band leader. From the mid-1960's onward, he made his mark in the fields of jazz, progressive rock, and world music.

Along with Dave Arbus of East of Eden, Mayer was probably the most well-liked violinist among rock musicians in London during the late 1960's, although his career is much more rooted in classical music. John Mayer born 1930 in Calcutta, to an Anglo-Indian father and an Indian mother. His musical interests manifested themselves early, and at seven he was studying violin with Phillipe Sandre at the Calcutta School of Music, who agreed to teach him in his free time, because Mayer's parents lacked the resources to send him there as a paying pupil. He later studied with Melhi Metha, who encouraged him, while in his late teens, to compete for a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

By then, Mayer was determined to become a composer who would be taken seriously both in his own country and abroad. He also wanted to achieve this utilising both European and Indian techniques, and toward this end he studied with Sanathan Mukherjee, who taught him the theoretical aspects of Indian classical music. At the time, he knew and heard little of jazz, although he did start sitting in as a drummer with jazz bands. Mayer won the scholarship, and arrived in London in 1950 to study at the Royal Academy. He had won through his violin playing, but he started out studying composition with Matyas Sether, who encouraged him to use the techniques of Indian and western music in serial composition.

His money ran out after only a year, but he was fortunate enough to earn a spot in the violin section of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Thus began a somewhat awkward eight-year period in which he played in the violin section of the orchestra while continuing to study composition - despite having some of his works played by the orchestra, and conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, he didn't begin to make headway as a composer until Sir Charles Groves commissioned him to write his Dance Suite for sitar, flute, tabla, tambura and symphony orchestra, which was premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1958.

This early success, however, created problems with the management of the London Philharmonic, however, which was a conservative organization and didn't appreciate having a composer within the ranks of its performing musicians. Mayer was forced to leave his job at the LPO, but was hired by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Sir Thomas Beecham, who asked him to join. Mayer began a happy seven year relationship with the RPO, in the process learning a huge amount about orchestration (as well as conducting) from some of the finest players in England. By 1965, when he left the RPO's violin section, he was able to finally earn his living from his compositions and to quit full time orchestral playing.

Additionally, by that time, fate had taken a hand in his career--Mayer was known in avant-garde London circles for his work mixing western and Hindustani classical music, and in 1964 EMI producer Dennis Preston asked him if he had available a short jazz-based piece with which to complete an album Preston was working on. Mayer told him he did, even though he had nothing ready - Preston said he wanted to record it the next day, and Mayer stayed up all night writing the piece. He attended the recording the following day, and thought no more about it until six months later when Preston told him that he'd played the piece to Atlantic Records founder and president Ahmet Ertegun in New York, who'd liked what he'd heard and suggested that Mayer write music for an album which would fuse Indian music and jazz.

Ertegun's idea was to combine the quintet of Indian musicians with which Mayer worked, featuring a sitar, tabla, tambura, flute, with Mayer on violin and harpsichord, with a jazz quintet led by Joe Harriott, himself an under-appreciated alto-player who had shown an appreciation of various aspects of world music. Mayer wrote the music in a month, and it was recorded by this group, known as the Joe Harriott and John Mayer Double Quintet, in two days. The resulting album, Indo-Jazz Fusions, was released in 1966 and became an immediate favorite in avant-garde circles and an unexpectedly good seller.


01. Partita (Mayer) - 17:19
02. Multani (Mayer) - 11:24
03. Gana (Mayer) - 2:05
04. Acka Raga (Mayer) - 2:40
05. Subject (Harriott/Mayer) - 6:20


Joe Harriott - Sax (Alto)
Shake Keane - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Pat Smythe - Piano
Coleridge Goode - Bass
Alan Ganley - Drums
John Mayer - Violin, Harpsichord
Diwan Motihar - Sitar
Chandrahas Paigankar - Tambura
Keshav Sathe - Tabla
Chris Taylor - Flute
Atlantic Records, 1966.



Bruce Eder from AMG continues :

They cut a second album that did as well as the first, and played in England and throughout Europe for the next seven years, until Harriott's death in 1973.

Mayer played violin with a group called Cosmic Eye, who cut an album, "Dream Sequence" (EMI-Regal Zonophone), in 1972. Mayer devoted much of his time in the years after Harriott's death to composition and academic pursuits, and was rewarded with professorships and composer-in-residence positions at the Birmingham Conservatory.

He revived Indo-Jazz Fusions in 1995, and resumed performing and recording with them (most recently on the Nimbus label), as well as composing new works with the same Indian-Jazz fusion idiom that he pioneered 40 years earlier. In March of 2004, Mayer was hit by a car and fatally injured. He was 73.

John Ballon from says :

Indo-Jazz Fusions boldly meshed elements of Western and Indian classical music with modal and free-jazz to create a vibrant and organic new sound. The album opens with the 17-minute Mayer composition, "Partita", a highly orchestrated suite comprised of three linked movements, featuring strong individual solos and an intense collective improvisation at its end. Mayer nimbly conducts both halves of the Double Quintet as they riff on traditional Indian scales (ragas) and lay down intricate rhythmic patterns (talas).
Harriott dominates throughout, playing accessibly and free, his impassioned solos soaring to meet Mayer's Indian challenge. Chandrahas Paigankar's droning tamboura and Keshav Sathe's pulsing tabla combine with Coleridge Goode's swinging bass and Allan Ganley's tasteful drums to create an uniquely exotic groove.
"Multani" follows with 11-minutes of equally magical and compelling music, as Mayer opens up his composition with virtuosic statements on violin, while Diwan Motihar deftly plucks his sitar with a mystical flair. When the horns come in, their cohesively chaotic interactions sound strangely like something off Eric Dolphy's "Out To Lunch". At 2 1/2 minutes in length, the kitschy (and catchy) "Acka Raga" is the perfect track to throw on any cool '60s mix (it was apparently the theme song to the BBC's old-school quiz show, "Ask The Family"). The album ends with "Subject", a tune that starts off sounding like the irritating theme music to the NPR show, "All Things Considered," before rebounding to a close with some rousing swing from Harriott's horn.


01. Overture [8:07]
02. Contrasts [9:24]
03. Raga Megha [8:39]
04. Raga Gaud-saranga [9:08]


Joe Harriott - alto saxophone
Kenny Wheeler - trumpet
Chris Taylor - flute
John Mayer - violin
Pat Smythe - piano
Diwan Motihar - sitar
Coleridge Goode - bass
Allan Ganley - drums
Keshan Sathe - tabla
Chandrahas Paiganka - tambura
Lansdowne Records, 1968.

Post credits 

-All rips by Bacoso
- "Cosmic Eye" link to Chase the Drummer's Music Selections.

Please leave comments


Roguur said...

Great post. Thanks!!!!

cheeba said...

Nice one! Those Mayer/Harriott albums are amazing and have been faves for a long time. The Curried Jazz is a new one on me and look forward to hearing it.

Coincidentally, I pulled Moe Koffman's "Curried Soul" and a Buddy Rich w/ Alla Rakha LP for ripping today, so this is perfect for my ears today. Thanks and good luck at the gigs this weekend!

Jazz-Nekko said...


Nice selections from the vaults. These three are all in my LP collection. . .and definitely are essential to any serious jazz collector!

As usual, your research, background info and presentation are impeccable.

Carry on, carry high -


Cellar said...

This is fantastic! Thanks so much, please post us some more Indo-Jazz!!

blackclassical said...

see goog max roach post... Left you an MSG ;)


troods said...

A friend of mine has been pushing me to John Mayer's sounds. Thank you and Bacoso - both of you are very soul is filled and flying. Yum.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post. I've wanted to hear these for some time. I like the sound of the sitar even more than that of the Rhodes! Which reminds me, the only Sitar and Rhodes music I know of is on that Miles Davis "Complete Bitches Brew" box set. Anyone know of any more?

crabula said...

Thank you very much !!
I love this unique kind of music !!

Captain Straightman said...

Thanks so much for posting Curried Jazz. My dad borrowed it from a record library when I was a kid and taped it. Many years later I found a vinyl copy that was rather scratched and crackly but better than nothing if you listened to it from another room. Very glad to come across a copy that will stand up to headphones at work.

Bil said...


Anonymous said...

So grateful that you share all these amazing indo jazz music albums!!! thank you thank you!!