July 2005

July 2, 2005BenQ StageToronto
Report by Joyce Corbett with photo by Roger Humbert

Suba Sankaran
If you think you’ve heard it all, let Autorickshaw take you for a ride. This is a group of four young musicians who play with great depth and skill. I would term what they do Indo-jazz rather than world music as I hear it as a real integration of Indian and jazz traditions that falls more into the jazz genre than the Indian if you have to classify it. The leader of the band, Suba Sankaran, has studied classical South Indian vocal music as well as jazz, piano and percussion. Rich Brown has been quoted as saying "I wanted to sing like Stevie, play like Miles, and phrase like Scofield”. He somehow works it all in on a six string bass with a gorgeous warm tone, playing solos as if he is playing a guitar. Ed Hanley on tablas and Debashis Sinha on percussion complete the band.

So how does this work out musically? What would you say to an 'exotic' version of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” with a long South Indian vocal introduction that becomes more of a jazz version of this Cohen classic than any I’ve ever heard. Another tune, from their new CD Four Higher, was written by a Bangalore percussion group and starts with flamenco style clapping. And they follow that with a fabulous Indo-jazz version of “Caravan”. The set closer, “And So the Journey Goes” was composed by Suba Sankaran. It’s a blues, a train song that chugs along the rails while Suba sings of her journey through India. To paraphrase: How do they know I’m not from here? I have the same skin, the same look.

This is a fresh and exciting group, well worth listening to. Don’t miss a chance to go and hear them.
Suba Sankaran — vocals/piano
Rich Brown — bass
Ed Hanley — tablas
Debashis Sinha — percussion
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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