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RAGA BOP TRIO

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Raga Bop Trio biography
Veteran rock and jazz/fusion drummer Steve Smith (Journey, Vital Information, session musician) and saxophonist and composer George Brooks (Summit, Bombay Jazz with Larry Coryell) collaborated still since 2003 in Brooks' Indian/jazz fusion outfit Summit. Since 2004, Smith and guitarist and composer Prasanna played together since 2004 as percussion/guitar duo. But only in 2010 al three musicians started Rag Bop Trio - their project, mixing jazz, Indian classical music and African grooves.

Uniquely-constructed trio's self-titled debut was released on July 20, 2010 on the AbstractLogix label.


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3.00 | 1 ratings
Raga Bop Trio
2010

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 Raga Bop Trio by RAGA BOP TRIO album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Raga Bop Trio
Raga Bop Trio Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
3 stars Ragabop Trio is Steve Smith on drums, Prasanna on guitar and George Brooks on saxophone, three experts in the fine art of Indian jazz-rock fusion. This first effort, also called 'Ragabop Trio', reveals a lot of talent as well as a few possible problems. The big plus is Prasanna's considerable skills on the electric guitar. I'm not sure how he produces intricate South Indian Carnatic micro-tonal note bends on an electric guitar, but he does and his ornaments are deadly accurate and authentic, but most importantly, they sound great.

Not everything is all Indian jazz-rock on here, on a few tunes they also turn to African fusion to provide some rhythmic foundation. The variety of styles they perform can be interesting, but sometimes it seems like this CD lacks focus or some kind of anchor point. Overall though, I think the biggest problem here is the lack of a bass player. I can see that by excluding the bass they have created a more Indian style ensemble with Smith acting as a tabla player on the trap set with the other two providing the raga like solos, which is fine on some of the more Indian styled cuts, but on the more rockin or funky numbers the lack of bass really sticks out and makes the music sound empty.

Some of the best cuts include: 'Tug of War', a fast paced fusion workout with lots of great guitar leads, 'Garuda', a beautiful mellow African melody and 'Katayini', a cool groove number with excellent alternating raga melodies. That last one could show up on some exotica collections someday. The least successful cut is 'The Geometry of Rap', in which Steve Smith presents Indian rhythm counting syllables (konnakol) as a sort of rap. It comes across as something that is clever the first time you do it, but not something to put on your CD. Besides, as a rap song, its not very good. I think I have heard someone else trying to use konnakol as rap, probably one of those things that will make the rounds for a while and then disappear for good, sort of like parachute pants.

I think fans of Indian fusion will find a lot of things to enjoy here. A couple songs are excellent and Prasanna's guitar playing is a revelation, but I think a little more musical unity and at least an occasional bass player could do this band some good.

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