U.K. bassist’s new album features Randy Brecker and Mike Stern
By David Sands
June 24, 2016
If you’re looking for something fresh on the fusion front, U.K. bassist Shez Raja’s new album, Gurutopia, should have you Indojazzfunking in no time.
The British-Asian musician, composer and bandleader has a bold up-front take on the electric five-string bass that has invited comparisons to the great Jaco Pastorius. He’s also known for bringing a funky raga-inflected sensibility to Indo-Jazz fusion that can’t help but invite feet to the dancefloor.
Released this April by Dot Time Records, Gurutopia continues Raja’s trend of pushing musical boundaries and includes some special contributions by contemporary jazz all stars Randy Brecker and Mike Stern. It’s the fourth studio effort by Raja’s Collective, which features violinist Pascal Roggen, drummer Chris Nickolls, saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos and keyboardist Alex Stanford as core band members. Singer Monika Lidke and keyboardist Steve Pringle also lend their talents to the effort this time around.
Offering up eight original tracks, Gurutopia is an audacious, raucous ride through the musical imaginations of Raja and his Collective — and the band is clearly having a lot of fun on the trip. The synth-fueled cosmic jazz trippiness of “Sketches of Space,” the blues-rock strutting of “RocknRolla” and the unruly Indo-Jazz mutations of “Maharaja,” might have one foot in a particular style of music, but they’re certainly not afraid to wave the other foot around ecstatically.
Stern’s energetic back-and-forth with Raja on “Rabbits” and Brecker’s soulful playing on “Primetime” are also not experiences to be missed.
3. Song For John
4. My Imaginary Friend
5. Sketches Of Space
8. Shiva Mantra
Artist: Shez Raja
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Label: Dot Time Records
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