Genres can be a way to attract listeners, but they can also repel them. In some circles, genres like new age, smooth jazz and fusion have a bad name, and their entry into jazz could be seen as something negative, but it can also be an enrichment of an art form that is able to embrace an endless amount of expressions. The following three releases are all jazz releases at the edge of new age, but they approach the term in different ways. Whereas guitarist Shambhu and trumpeter Jeff Oster play melodic and smooth new age jazz with a pinch of funk, fusion and world music, Teguh Permana & Yngel have a rawer approach that is closer to drone than melody, but still with a meditative approach. In fact, all these releases approach new age in the way they treat music as something spiritual that encourages contemplation.
The cover of Shambhu's fourth album Lilac Skies might scare some listeners away with a picture that suggests far more new age than jazz, but while there's no denying that the guitarist is closely connected to the new age aesthetic, his sound is much more than that. While the sweet, meditative melodies, airy flutes and keyboard washes might spell new age, there is too much going on rhythmically in "Dream Walk" to call it classic new age. With electric guitar, pedal steel, vibrant drums and percussion, Shambhu and his band explore several layers in the music, but the band can also cut down to an essential rhythm and melody on tracks like the rock instrumental "Basis of it All." On the other hand, the smooth funky fusion of "Inspired by the Night" and "Seeing You Again" are all sophisticated relaxation with gentle piano splashes.
The counterpoint to the elaborately detailed band tracks is the warm acoustic solos that are a keen reminder of Shambhu's connection with Will Ackerman. Ackerman co-produced Shambhu's acclaimed Sacred Love (Self Produced, 2010) where the influence from Indian music was more pronounced than it is on Lilac Skies. In the spirit of Ackerman, the album also featured beautiful acoustic guitar playing, and, once again, Shambhu delivers fingerstyle pearls like "Unspoken Words" and "Pondering When."
Between Sacred Love and Lilac Skies, Shambhu has released Dreaming of Now (Self Produced, 2013) and Soothe (Self Produced, 2017). They are important steps in Shambhu's shaping of his own sound, which is not world music, fusion, fingerstyle, new age or smooth jazz, but all these things in a personal expression.
Originally published at All About Jazz.
About Jakob Baekgaard
Jakob is still amazed by the ability of jazz to constantly transform itself as an art form.About MeLike countless others, I first fell in love with jazz when a friend introduced me to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. This album became the start of a journey that took me into the many wonderful corners of the world that is jazz. No matter the genre, be it avant-garde, mainstream or modern, I seek the music that touches the heart and soothes the soul. I live in the city of Odense, the home of the famous poet and author H.C. Andersen. If you stop by, please visit the Jazzhouse Dexter, one of the truly memorable jazz clubs in Denmark.