Contemporary Jazz

East Meets West


A common spoken valediction or salutation originating from the Indian subcontinent, the term "Namaste" is a customary greeting when individuals meet and a valediction upon their parting -- and the title of a fascinating new East meets West musical adventure by American sax superstar Kenny G and Rahul Sharma, a Hindustani classical musician renowned for his mastery of the 100 string santoor and his exotic vocals.

Kenny Gorelick is no stranger to superstar collaborations, having scored big in 2004 with At Last...The Duets Album, which included performances with everyone from David Sanborn and David Benoit to Gladys Knight and Barbra Streisand. But this cultural and genre transcendent project -- whose seeds were planted when Sharma approached the saxman after a show in Mumbai a few years ago -- presented unique challenges for the saxman: "It was more a question of 'Where do I fit in? What notes do I play that will best serve this piece of music?'"

In 2011, the two musicians released Namaste India, a 7-track set deeply rooted in the traditions of Indian folk and classical music. The song titles speak exotic volumes: "Brahma Vishnu Shiva," "Lotus Lovers," "Om Shanti" for starters. The re-arranged American version adds a chill mix and subtle backbeat via mixer/producer Marc Burrows (aka Marc JB of the UK dance music group Bimbo Jones), operating here as "Kid Tricky. The album closes with remixed tracks that don't appear on the original Namaste India, including a sweeping version of "Transcendental Consciousness," as reimagined by Walter A, and a rendition of the tile track remixed by the Soul Seekerz.