Various Artists

Moment Records Collection, Vol. 1

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As the title implies, Moment Records Collection, Vol. 1 is a compilation of tracks from Moment Records' back catalog. It's a grab bag of some of the label's most favored North Indian Hindustani, South Indian carnatic, and East-West world fusion performances. Kicking off the CD is a smashing tabla duet between the record label's founder -- Zakir Hussain -- and his father/guru, the late great Ustad Alla Rakha. Their duet, which spirals in and about the 16 beats of tintal, begins with a coordinated flourish of compositional recitations. As each of the recitations' syllables corresponds to specific drum strokes, the duo follows the vocalizations with its performance on tabla. Back and forth the super tabla duo goes, alternating between vocals and drumming, all the while improvising, playing, and raising the level of its art. On the track entitled "Tappa," the light classical vocals of Shrimati Girija Devi come to life. The leading diva of the Benares gharana, Devi is considered to be this vocal tradition's foremost expert. Accompanied here by Hussain on tabla and supporting vocalist Zainul Abedin, Devi's voice flits and flitters about with a sense of serenity that only years of disciplined practice can produce. The final two songs on the CD depart from the album's overall classical thrust. Performed by Zakir Hussain & the Rhythm Experience, both tunes meld timbres and rhythmic sensibilities from India and the West. Topnotch musicianship, creatively constructed song forms, and crystal clear studio production characterize these tunes. Despite these and other strengths, the sometimes cheesy use of sax and overemphasis on the Western pentatonic scale will rub some the wrong way. Moment Records Collection, Vol. 1 is the perfect CD for anyone interested in sampling superior Hindustani and carnatic performances, as well as creative and East-West fusion experiments. Depending on what you like or dislike on this CD, it should act as a guide for delving deeper into Moment's outstanding catalog.

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