After issuing his debut solo album, Facing East, flautist John Wubbenhorst has reconvened his group to record a follow-up to their second album, Bansuri Dreams with Facing Beloved. The trio of Wubbenhorst, bassist Steve Zerlin, and guitarist Jorge Zamorano is joined by two South Indian percussionists, T.H. Subash Chandran, who plays ghatam (clay pot) and provides the vocal percussion known as konnakol, and Ganesh Kumar, who plays the South Indian frame drum called a kanjira. Although he has been studying Indian music and religion for most of his life, Wubbenhorst, a native of Norwalk, CT, is a Western musician by birth and background, and his goal is not to play traditional Indian music, but rather to fuse it with other elements, specifically jazz, to create a new world music hybrid. Thus, the ten-minute "John Beyond" pays tribute to an obvious precursor, John McLaughlin, another Western musician with a deep interest in the music of the East from a jazz perspective. "Irish Prelude" and "Irish Raga" draw specific parallels between Indian and Celtic music, particularly the drones common to both. And the title tune is based on Johann Sebastian Bach's E Flat Flute Sonata. Wubbenhorst's music requires an open-minded audience, one that won't mind the musical mixing or the excerpt from the writings of his guru heard in "The Light Above Religion's Mind." Although his flutes are given prominence in the arrangements, this is very much a band album, and the group handles the varied material ably.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann