Arun Ghosh: But Where Are You Really From?
For those who might like to branch out from the usual smashing and crashing of the hard rock and metal may I recommend a listen to the fourth album from the incredible clarinettist Arun Ghosh. I was lucky enough to be in London on 11 October when the British-Asian composer and musical educator premiered his new album But Where Are You Really From? and, so I popped along the album launch at the Roundhouse in Camden. A small but enthusiast audience had gathered to watch Ghosh and his fabulous band of superb musicians play over an hour of tracks from the release.
Ghosh is an endearing figure, full of enthusiasm which he delivers in the natural style of someone brought up in Bolton and Manchester. His music, whilst predominantly jazz, merges a huge variety of sounds including folk, hip hop, rock and classical Indian to create some fantastic tunes. The high energy of Snakebite With Bacchus opened proceedings for the evening and is also the first track on the album. Four minutes of intertwined clarinet and saxophone jousting backed by a funky rhythm section. The dark Daggar Dance followed, a brooding smouldering tune that combines Ghosh’s clarinet with the duel tenor and alto saxophones of Idris Rahman and long-time collaborator Chris Williams.
Live the music has much more chance to develop and as you would expect, there were twists and turns at the Roundhouse which were not available to the artist during the recording process. However, the album version really manages to capture the live feel and it’s a super track. The album takes a slower pace with the calming Pastoral Sympathy (This Land Is Mine), allowing Ghosh to demonstrate his quality not just as a player but as a composer. His music really does calm and sooth and this track is possibly the mellow moment that we all need in a busy day. It’s usually not far away from the play button for me.
Meanwhile back at the album launch, Ghosh has tried to flog his album about six times with increasingly desperate humour by the time they launch into Made In England (for Parv), a track which has more than an ounce of Eastern flavour about it. On stage the band are a mixture of calm and furious energy, Ghosh moving constantly as he counts the others in and out, taking deep breaths to capture even more lung capacity for some stunning efforts. Smash Through The Gates Of Thought is almost rock, with a driving guitar and bass pushing the track along at pace. It’s smooth, relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable both in the live launch and on the album, with more than a hint of 70s cop show theme about it. It’s addictive and marvellous in every way.
The evening closed with the riotous, punk edged jam of Voice Of Freedom, possibly Ghosh’s raciest ever song and it is just brilliant. Dragging Rahman on stage to join the fun was a stylish finish to a superb evening. If you get an opportunity to check out this rather fine album I guarantee that you’ll be left feeling calm, relaxed and fully at peace. It’s fun, paced to perfection and of the highest quality. 10/10