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Album Review: Sandeep Chowta ”” Matters Of The Heart

The long wait for this album has been worth it

Lindsay Pereira Nov 18, 2013
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Composer Sandeep Chowta (left) with saxophone player Jay Beckenstein of American jazz fusion band, Spyro Gyra Photo: Courtesy of Sandeep Chowta

Composer Sandeep Chowta (left) with saxophone player Jay Beckenstein of American jazz fusion band, Spyro Gyra Photo: Courtesy of Sandeep Chowta

[easyreview cat1title = “Matters of the Heart” cat1rating = 4]

iTunes release, Rs 170

 'Matters of the Heart' album artworkMatters of the Heart opens with the title track, a languid instrumental, followed by an equally mellow “Angels in the Desert” ”” both brought to life by the measured tones of flautist Dave Valentin. Not to say it’s a great start to a much-anticipated album but on the contrary, it lowers the expectations of those who happen to be aware of its long gestation period.

Having said that, one doesn’t have to wait particularly long for the extraordinary either. It comes soon enough, when Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt plays mohan veena on the nine-minute long “Close Your Eyes,” with Jeff Richman (guitar), Jimmy Haslip (bass), Russell Ferrante (piano) and William Kennedy (drums) for company. The legendary Dave Grusin (who composed music for The Graduate) uses his piano to put a firm stamp on “Red Drops of Love,” a track made more interesting by Brazilian singer Dori Caymmi’s wordless vocals.

What stands out rather quickly here is the emphasis on melody that all musicians (jazz or otherwise) appear to have taken very seriously. This critic’s favorite was “Your Temperature Takes Me Places,” a beguiling tune that owes much of its subtle beauty to the piano and keyboards of Ferrante.

Like a river running through it all is Sandeep Chowta’s keyboard. Given the amount of time he has put into Matters of the Heart, the chosen 17 tracks are obviously his pick of the lot. For those not privy to his creative process though ”” i.e. the average, untrained, non-musician listener ”” much of the beauty of this music may begin to wear thin after the tenth nine-minute instrumental. 11 tracks cross the seven-minute mark, with one (“Dichotomy Love”) a few seconds shy of 14 minutes. The loss, when this happens, is undoubtedly ours.

Those who persevere (please do!) will discover many moments of beauty: Deepak Pandit’s violin on “Dichotomy Love,” for instance, Eric Marienthal’s saxophone on Tribute (to Michael Brecker), Sonu Kakkar’s vocals on “Waiting” or Gary Willis playing bass on “Amy! You Never Let Go.”

This isn’t a jazz album. It isn’t a ”˜jazz fusion’ album either, whatever that’s supposed to mean. What it can be referred to ”” if only because listeners often feel the need to categorize a sound ”” is a jazz-infused pop album. Chowta has strong pop sensibilities that shine through constantly, with some virtuosos helping him along. The moments of brilliance far outnumber those that appear to plod. Sandeep Chowta has clearly put the past couple of years to good use. The musicians on Matters of the Heart are owed careful listening. You are urged to grant them that courtesy.

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