May 29, 2010
Doug Cox & Salil Bhatt- Slide to Freedom 2: Make a Better World The initial collaboration between slide guitarist Cox and stavik veena master Bhatt was one of my favourite albums of the previous decade. It slapped me upside the head with its blending of sounds and genres. I missed out on this one- for some reason I wasn’t serviced with it- and I never bothered buying it, figuring I’d find it used somewhere, someday. But I didn’t.
With my weekly watching of Treme, I’ve been intrigued by the theme song and one morning this week recognized the singer’s voice when I heard a version of “City of New Orleans” played on CKUA- John Boutté. A Google search confirmed his connection to Treme and continued investigation brought up not only an album I downloaded from eMusic, but Boutte’s involvement with this collection. Yes, Vancouver Island meets up with India and New Orleans!
I recalled considering Slide to Freedom 2 on a previous visit to the downtown Calgary, so while there this weekend I searched it out. Not as immediately arresting as the first volume, but that has more to do with the lack of surprise this one holds. The addition of Boutté’s voice to the proceedings provides another interesting element. By the time they work out on “Freedom Raga,” I’m in another world.
Their rendition of “Amazing Grace”- Boutté’s soulful voice working with the unusual (in a gospel/soul context) sounds of the veena, brings down the house. (More about my strange affinity for gospel music later.) It is on the longer tracks when the music is most trance-inducing that the power of the Cox-Bhatt collaboration is most apparent.
June 08, 2010
DOUG COX AND SALIL BHATT
Slide to Freedom 2:
Make a Better World
he slide has made some intriguing in-
roads in global music. King Sunny Ade
redefined Nigerian music by creating Juju,
partly inspired by the Hawaiian style of
playing. Chinese folk artists run slides
over whatever strings they can think of,
and Indian musicians have invented some
of the most intriguing instruments on the
planet. Salil Bhatt's veena-meets-arch-
top-guitar is no exception. The cross be-
tween the resonant delicacies of a sitar
with a bluesy edge and Canada's Doug
Cox's gadgie works beautifully. The first
edition of Slide to Freedom was a treat.
With their latest, the duo's relationship has
deepened, and so has the music. John
Boutte's vocal contributions add lyrical
strength to the otherwise instrumental al-
bum, especially on the Gospel-influenced
"Make a Better World" - Gospel referring
more to the lyric's intention than to a spe-
cific style of song. For that, think blues.
The addition of bass player Dinah D to this
album roots the songs nicely. Tabla player
Ramkumar Mishra slides his two-drum set
gorgeously, especially when given room to
wander, as with "A Letter Home" and
"Blessings." The duo takes on the classic
"Amazing Grace," reminding one of Ben
Harper's slide-fueled tendencies meeting
the Blind Boys of Alabama's Gospel -
Dinah D joins forces with Michael
Wrycraft for harmony vocals. More than
anything, the listener can literally hear the
fun these musicians must have had while
creating this inspired album. This series
is one we certainly hope continues. - DB