Jugalbandi - From Is to Was



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Mohtine from the Bayou Comet writes ... FROM IS TO WAS This is the vibrant debut album from Gordon Irvine and Chris Kant as Jugalbandi, an Indian word meaning two performers in concert who fuse different instruments or systems of music: they use 12 and 6 string guitars, Greek baglama (a long necked bowl-lute), mandolin, octave mandolin and cittern, and so one or two listens will illustrate that it does what it says on the packet. Some of the tracks have percussive elements which provide extra depth and power to the dynamic of the strings.  For those who want a peg on which to hang this new work, there are echoes of Pentangle, Hot Club de France and primitive Penguin Café Orchestra but with Jazz Manouche, blues, latin rhythms and mariachi - all thrown into the juicer. The first track "Baglamarama" kicks off with shambolic mastery and frenetic lashings of the baglama. The tempo drops just a notch with the existentially named track "From Is To Was", in which guitar and octave mandolin summon up the ambience and stop-start movement of life in the hot, busy streets of Latin America or Africa. The subtlety of the playing style, compositions and arrangements is evident in the flamboyancy of "With The Greatest of Ease" and the bebop influences of "The Bell is Ringing". The low points of the album are when, in  "Lord Mayo", the percussive element and punk stridency drive the music just that little bit too hard and when, in "Basildon Boy" the questionable use of a thirties cigar-box blues filter means the album finishes with a thin distillation of a tune which has a lot going for it in the form of unusual blues structures. Celtic influences are found in the traditional arrangements of "Paddy Fahey's Reel,  "Tradition Times Two " and in the original tunes " Waverley" and  "Tune for Jacob" but again there is a reworking with Latin American and African overtones and harmonies. "The Spirit is Willing" and the waltz "Evening Rose"  are original compositions with reflective, almost elegiac reprises which serve as an acoustic balm for any 21st century angst.  'El Gato' (The Cat) with it's spiralling, sensuous build-up and it's obvious nod to Latin America stands out as the musical highpoint of the album. The partnership is less than two years old but is underpinned by years of folk and rock playing.  It does not require imagination to see that some of the tracks immediately lend themselves to theme or incidental music for film and television. This is not an album for musical purists, but if you like your music instrumental, well- blended and served up with some elegant style, powerful vamping and a definite groove, then go out and avail yourself of this powerful musical juice from Jugalbandi.

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1) Baglarama
2) From Is to Was
3) Tradition Times Two
4) Tune for Jacob
5) El Gato
6) The Spirit Is Willing
7) The Bell Is Ringing
8) Waverley
9) With the Greatest of Ease
10) Paddy Fahey's Reel
11) Evening Rose
12) Lord Mayo
13) Basildon Boy

From Is to Was
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From Is to Was | Jugalbandi

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