Hear Bodhisattwa Trio’s Unhinged New Record ‘The Grey Album’
The Kolkata experimental jazz act will head out across South East Asia and Europe starting next month
Even as the leader of a left-field jazz trio, Kolkata guitarist Bodhisattwa Ghosh still believes that “the audience is open” to all kinds of music. “People are looking for quality work and there are incredible things happening all over [the music world],” he says about avant-garde and experimental jazz.
The question of listenership and accessibility of the Bodhisattwa Trio’s music arises only because they – Ghosh, drummer Premjit Dutta and keyboardist and synth bass player Arunava Chatterjee (the latest addition) – have released their third record The Grey Album via Croatia’s Intek Music label. Ghosh recalls he visited Croatia first with jazz-fusion band Kendraka and made contacts that helped his trio secure European tour stops in 2017 and 2018. “We were looking for labels and these guys replied first,” Ghosh says.
On their previous European sojourns, Ghosh admits the trio gets questions about why they’d play mind-altering, unpredictable jazz, none of it sounding Indian. He says, “People usually ask, ‘How can you be Indian and play this jazz that’s so abstract?’” Ghosh reminds them that there’s an “active counterculture” on in India and that he’s often inspired by Indian rhythmic patterns and time signatures in his writing.
In their follow-up to 2016’s lo-fi Heart of Darkness, the trio replaced bassist Bijit Bhattacharya with keyboardist Chatterjee aka Shonai, who joined in early 2018. Ghosh says they jammed and got accustomed to a synth-bass and keyboardist between January and March last year, and finished recording by June at Kolkata’s Blooperhouse Studios by engineer Abhibroto Mitra. Unlike their raw sound on Heart of Darkness, the seven-track Grey Album plays with ideas of chaos, creation, conflict and everything in between. The songs incorporate jazz, electronica, drum and bass and world music influences. Like Heart of Darkness, this album was also recorded live with no retakes or overdubs, but features more tinkering on the post-production front, with panning and isolation shaping the listening experience.
Even with “an equally strong soloist” like Shonai on board, the trio aim to replicate the sound of The Grey Album on tour. They kick off with shows in New Delhi on February 15th (at the Piano Man Jazz Club) and in Mumbai on February 19th (at The Little Door), followed by a formal launch show in Kolkata that’s slated for March 10th. Ghosh adds, “We also have shows in Kuala Lumpur at [jazz venue] No Black Tie on March 14th and 18th, and in Singapore. Apart from this, June and July will have a couple of festivals and shows in Germany, Croatia and Poland.”
Stream ‘The Grey Album’ here.