Guitar hero Fareed Haque lays out a Hindustani, jazz-fusion groove quotient here on this multifarious and strikingly cohesive 2009 release. A professor of jazz and classical guitar at Northern Illinois University, the artist is also a first-call sideman via his work with the late Joe Zawinul, pop icon Sting and many others. Moreover, he’s the co-founder of the fiery electric jazz jam unit known as Garaj Mahal.
Haque and his bandmates paint an Eastern modal canvass spiced with peppy, rhythmical exercises and mood-evoking melody lines. He even incorporates funk and hot-tempered shuffle components into the grand schema. Therefore the program offers a counterbalancing track mix and isn't superfluous by any stretch. Not over-cooked or weighty, Haque’s fluent jazz progressions and blitzing single note breakouts are interwoven into the Eastern element via an array of cleverly enacted arrangements.
The guitarist will launch into complex unison lines with tablaist Jim Feist and other performers while embarking upon genre-busting sojourns during the preponderance of these works. Haque incorporates the worldly rhythmic element, containing numerous flavors and inflections as the alternating personnel venture into jazz-based improvisation, firmed up by melodic percussion exercises.
With this release, Haque pays close adherence to the qualitative aspects of composition. Each piece stands on its own amid changeable variants, including the improvised piece "32 Taxis," where kanjira artist Ganesh Kumar tears it all up with thirty-two quarter note beats. Overall, there’s a lot to sink your mind’s eye into. What a wonderful harmonic blend of ethnocentric musical forms it is. Highly entertaining yet dense, probing and buoyantly executed, the music iterated here commands repeated listens.