Friday, 15 August 2008

Buddy Rich & Alla Rakha - Rich à la Rakha

74.7 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from World Pacific WPS-21453

Buddy Rich is about as well-known as drummers get, so we'll skip the formalities on him. Here he's playing around with
one of the most influnetial musicians in India, the "Einstein of Rhythm" Ustad Alla Rakha. "Playing around" is the operative phrase here as this seems like a pretty half-assed stab at some East-meets-West schtick saved only by the impeccable musicianship of the players and generally good intentions all around.

Buddy Rich - Drums & Dholak
Alla Rakha - Tabla
Paul Horn - Flute
Shamim Ahmed - Sitar
Taranath Rao - Dholak
Nodu C. Mullick - Tamboura & Manjira
Amiya Das Gupta - Tamboura

1 Khanda Kafi
2 Duet In Dadra
3 Rangeela
4 Nagma E Raksh
5 Tal Sawari

Rakha and Rich "battle" on tabla and traps for only a couple cuts and Buddy's absent for most of the second side since the last track is a solo by Rakha recorded live at Shelley's Manne Hole and tacked onto the relatively short proceedings. Rich is obviously an incredible drummer and holds his own but he's still sorely outmatched and out of his element here, especially when he moves off the kit and they go mano à mano. I get the feeling he knows it and for all the time they supposedly spent together, my money's on that being the reason there's less than 20 minutes on record to speak for it.

At least for a fair portion of that time, they're joined by Paul Horn who had worked with Shankar two years earlier on Ravi Shankar: Portrait of a Genius. Horn was undergoing a huge transformation the year this was taped, to the point where AMG starts their bio for him saying "when one evaluates Paul Horn's career, it is as if he were two people, pre- and post-1967." He would initiate his Inside series shortly after this was released in Feb '68, heading to India to record his popular proto-New Age Inside The Taj Mahal material (also released as Inside and Inside II). With the loss of Orgy In Rhythm, most of the good Paul Horn sides floating around were lost to the blogosphere but out of what's available I highly recommend Visions and Alturo do Sol. I was never too big on the ersatz funkiness of Dream Machine but it does have its moments.

I'm assuming this was recorded while Ravi Shankar (who helped compose, arrange and conduct half the music on this LP) was hanging out in California around the time of the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. He had already built a solid relationship with the label by that point and released three LPs of his own on Pacific Jazz's world music subsidiary World Pacific in a year's time while having a hand in a few others, including this one.

Shamim Ahmed is still playing Sitar and now goes by the esteemed title Ustad Shamim Ahmed Khan. He has released two albums in the west as far as I could tell, Sitar Maestro and Shamim Ahmed: Ragas of India.

Taranath Rao was already in his late 50s and an acknowledged grand master of percussion when this was recorded. Definitely a heavy hitter in the hide-hitter hierarchy, he played with the gurus of the gurus of the masters and was considered a walking museum of rhythms. Now that's some serious beat science.

Nodu C. Mullick was apparently an upstart in the music world, going from a cabinet-maker to a master Tamboura player who worked with Ravi Shankar extensively. He also was the person who hand-crafted and maintained Shankar's sitars and is notorious for getting a credit on the cover of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Inventions' Freak Out.

Professor Amiya Dasgupta was one of Shankar's earliest disciples and was still relatively young at the time of this recording. He joined Taranath Rao at CalArts in L.A. during the 80s.

Reissued on CD back in 2001, Into The Rhythm's post of this session includes the liner notes from that release. I checked a week ago and didn't see this LP anywhere, so I ripped the audio and scanned the covers then just as I got to the 2nd last personality involved while doing the write up, I found ITR had put this up a few months ago. It was too late to stop by then so you can get yourself a digital version of the vinyl from Soundological right HERE or HERE.


J Thyme...kind said...

Nicely written. So much to jump off on here. Firstly, since India is in the southern hemisphere like Brasil & both cultures excel at poly-rhythm, then I would have to say that your assessment of Rich being outclassed by an East Indian is reasonable. East Indian drumming must stretch back 1000 years & that's no joke. As far as Paul Horn's involvement on this set is concerned, I'd say his illegal recording inside the Taj is one of the great, great pieces of renegade art. Just use your imagination. Paul was allowed entry by a guide who managed to gain him entry into the hallowed space, thereby allowing a great work of art to be made. Fantastic!!!

Emile said...

cheeba, nice drop!
a friend of mine LOVES this shit 2!
I'll pass it on to him (believe it or not, but he has just internet for e-mail, so I'll burn it on a disc for him:-)
thanks from me & Ad
peace, E-mile

cheeba said...

Thanks, J! I totally agree with your Pyramid assessment. I picked it up at a young age because I was into anything Egyptian and it was like a musical B&E record. I've been toying with the idea of posting it here because although the music is available, the multiple issues have different illustrated booklets which I haven't seen out yet. It's a fascinating story in addition to its historical significance.

Funny you mention 1000 years of drumming history (which is conservative considering they covered principles of scale, melody and rhythm in the Rig Veda over 3000 years ago!) since the man who was considered the walking encyclopedia/museum of that entire history of rhythm was in the same room and it was his Dholak that Buddy was using during the session. Talk about under-utilised resources!

cheeba said...

You're welcome, E-mile. It don't matter how the love gets spread, as long as it gets spread, right? :)

J Thyme...kind said...

Cheeba! Some of those Bollywood scores kick like it's no bodies business.
Here's a short list of favs.

R.D. Burman - Kasme Vaade OST [1978]
Rajkamal - Sawan Ko Aane Do OST [1979 EMI] India
Laxmikant-Pyarelal - Sargam OST [1979 EMI]
Laxmikant-Pyarelal - Loafer OST [1972 EMI]
Kalyanji Anandji - Qurbani OST [1978 Polydor]

Any of these will more then prove your point about 3000 years of lineage. For real!

cheeba said...

Nice! Where I grew up I didn't have much access to Bollywood material and even the classical Indian stuff wasn't voluminous. I have a couple by RD Burman but will definitely search these out. As always, appreciate your guidance!

J Thyme...kind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cheeba said...

D'oh! I missed that one! :)

Thanks tho, J!

munshiraj said...

Very nice description. Recently a friend showed me the original LP and I was stunned. You are right about Buddy, but also A. Rakha shines better in his own element too. There is nothing polyphnic here since all meters are mostly in 3 and 4. I have yet to hear the whole album. Thanks for the write-up.

Ozzy said...

The greatest jazz drummer met the greatest percusionnist in the world? What? They've made an album together? No kidding?
Thank you for sharing this!