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Indo Jazz Fusion Review: Ray Spiegel Ensemble-Moksha

Release Date:2014
Label: BMI

Ray Spiegel began his journey into music when he was but a lad of thirteen years. Transfixed by the Indian performers he heard playing, he burned to learn more and thus began his voyage into the deep and churning waters of the music industry. Moksha is his newest release. Artists and special features in this album include: Stephen James (violin, sarod), lra Coleman (bass, electric bass and Hodu), Tani Tabbal (cajon, drums), Ramesh Misra (sarangi), Ray Spiegel (tabla drums, manjira, marimba, percussion), Melanie Richeson, (harp), Junior Gabo Wedderburn (djembe, wood bongo, congas), Stan Scott (harmonium), Hansa Veena (Hindustani slide guitar), Robert Levin (talking drum, percussion), Frank Velardi (drums) and sounds of nature recorded at Simla House, West Hurley, NY.

Filled with sounds of Classical Indian music blended with a modern fusion sound, Moksha is an album full of surprises. The title track, “Moksha” trickles to life with string instruments and sounds of water.  These quickly morph into a catchy percussive elements complete with sarong and tabla weaving in and out of the flawless composition. Sounds of nature bring crispness to the piece, making you feel that you are standing in the middle of a land of magic and mystery.

“Wild Mushrooms at Telluride” is one of my favorite songs on the album. A heavy downpour brings the piece to life. Thunder clashes. Birds chirp in the aftermath of the storm. Plunking little sounds intersperse with the musical backdrop, so you aren’t sure if you are hearing a cacophony of frogs, or something else. You turn your ear and cock your head. Yes. It is a forest of mushrooms bursting wild from the soil. The joyful popping sounds fall in line with the classic Indian instruments, weaving with modern day fusion techniques to give this piece a fresh and intoxicating experience for the listener. It is the longest track on the album, but it so enjoyable I did not mind it in the least. String instruments blend with the popping sounds and it began to remind me of a manic episode of a body snatcher movie-with happy little mushrooms taking over the world one pod at a time. Excellent melody. Instruments included in this unique piece were: sarod, sarangi, harmonium, percussion and more.

“Farewell” is the final piece on the album. Tinkling bells, the swaying lilt of a harp and the soothing and sensual moves of the Hindustani slide guitar make this one of the most beautifully crafted tracks on the album. I found myself closing my eyes and drifting into a place of peace, never wanting the song to end. Tabla, percussion and a variety of unique instruments helped to make this piece a remarkable one.

All of the artists contributing to Moksha should be very proud of what they have put together. An album of rich culture and diversity, it speaks to Classical Indian techniques and instruments, but goes one step further in breaking down the barriers between the past and present. Jazz infusions blend with classic sound to create new landscapes for listeners to enjoy. Elements of Bollywood and street pieces intersperse with Afro-Cuban, Indian Folk and more. I for one feel privileged to have come across this remarkable album. If you will excuse me, I think I want to go listen to those popping little mushrooms again. Catchy little things. If you enjoy a window into world music at its best, try Moksha

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Wild Mushrooms At Telluride, Once Around, Farewell

Tracks: 
1.Moksha
2.Once Around
3.Soul at Sunrise
4.Tal Sawari
5.Wolfy’s Dream
6.Connect the Dots
7.Wild Mushrooms at Telluride
8.Farewell

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

August 8, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

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