R A V I P A D M A N A B H A
Ravi Padmanabha is a multi-instrumentalist who specializes in drums and percussion.
DOH TALA review by marc medwin .allaboutjazz
The duo of Steve Baczkowski and Ravi Padmanabha has been engaging in exploratory improv for some time and the addition of master flutist Robert Dick is a stroke of genius.
A certain world-beat vibe pervades much of the disc, as it does many of Padmanabha's projects, but this is no mere new-age feel-good session. The opening track should clarify the direction from which these improvisers are coming as they create structures ranging from serene introspection to New Thing confrontation. If "Epoch" brings drone to the fore, Baczkowski's didgeridoo in full effect, "Boarding" returns to the world of free improv as Baczkowski's clarinet weaves lines and circles around Dick's Dolphy-esque flute pointillisms.
Baczkowski has grown by leaps and bounds since he came to attention with Paul Flaherty several years back. If some of the high-drama and roiling intensity has been replaced by timbral exploration and attention to delicacy of phrasing, so much the better. His art has gained subtlety, breadth and wisdom, all especially apparent and appropriate in this multi-national context.
Dick's playing itself bridges geographical gaps; in the midst of some Varese-influenced atonalities, he launches into a modal fragment, repeating it several times before just as quickly abandoning it for new territory. In this, his approach mirrors perfectly that of his comrades. The title track tells the story, sliding and lurching through percussion-heavy atmospheres with each musician so in tune with the overall texture that individual contributions become indistinguishable. This is world music as it's meant to be, flexible without compromise.
AQUA MACHINE QBICO51.BACZKOWSKI/PADMANABHA "AQUA MACHINE" ------- "This partnership's previous venture, Tongue Rust and Lead Moth, met with my overwhelming approval, and to say that this new disc trumps it would be to miss the enormity of the accomplishment. The duo has expanded its scope in every way, employing many more sound sources, much more intricate interaction and, most impressively, engaging long-term process with satisfying results. From the opening thwacks of the first track, a wonk and a truncated holler, the two are in almost hyperconscious communication; the ensuing ten seconds expose a delectable grab-bag of gesalts, from the sultry half-melody laid down by Steve Baczkowski - this time on saxophone and accompanied by Ravi Padmanabha's delicate cymbal musings - to the multiphoinc clashing furor that errupts on its heels. Crescendi crash headlong through excitement into the realm of disturbing, as they do at strategic points throughout this set of live recordings, each reigned in with unbelievable tastefulness. Then, there are the moments of introspection, such as the first note of track 2. I say note, which really is a misnomer, as Baczkowski's slide bass clarinet slides up and down a bit more than a halfstep over the sound's trajectory, dragging overtones in its tremulous wake. Equally poignant is the stirringly contemplative fourth track, where Padmanabha's tabla playing is in full effect, a beautiful rhythmic timbral exploration amidst Baczkowski's ultra-expressive moans, sighs and exclamations, peppered with multiphonics, loose growls and flashes of Orientalist melody. The piece moves along as if each part was constructed independently, a great machine whirring just above the void." Marc Medwin - Signal to Noise 47 Fall '07 ************************
Padmanabha and Baczkowski's duo set at Instal 2006 was one of the hands-down brain benders of that great weekend and while their duo discs on Utech were all more than fine, they didn't really capture the full fleshy glory of the trio mid-flight. But this is the monster they've always promised, a massive jaw-buggering huff of growling circular breath, black, black blues, detonating percussive inventiveness and a whole lot of joyous breath and bones interaction. Clear brown vinyl with black and violet, recorded in Buffalo, Rochester & Syracuse on April 8/9/10, 2005. Baczkowksi plays baritone and tenor sax, slide bass clarinet, bells, conch shell, voicemaster, noseflute and home-made 8 hole clarinet, Padmanabha plays drums, percussions, gopichand and tabla. Highly recommended.
DAVID KEENAN-VOLCANIC TONGUE
Baczkowski and Padmanabha have been tearing up the improv music scene for a few years now, both together and apart. Baczkowski made a notable appearance on “The Dim Bulb” with Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano. As a trio they played so heavy they shook the steel girders. But he is no slouch away from that occasional line-up. Laying down the real slop in groups such as the Buffalo Suicide Prevention Unit, Hyoloza, along with gigs supporting William Parker and Eddie Gale amongst others, Baczkowski is a force, pure and simple. Padmanabha has been seen and heard in various line-ups with Baczkowski over the years, and in different groupings around NYC, but it is this duo where these two start to boil water. Here we have improvisation, seething with purity. Their date issued by Utech earlier this year starts to show the power of this “sax and drums” duo. But here, on “Aqua Machine”, they swing the wrecking ball. Right now they are hot off a giant appearance at Instal 06 and an equally drool-inducing set at Qbico Unite VII, but this slab of dark pink vinyl (like a hookers cheap lipstick!) takes us back a year and change. The sounds on these two sides were recorded over three days of trekking from Western to Central NY, hitting Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
Baczkowski broadens his palette here, on record at least. Primarily known for his mean baritone playing, that horn is only featured on one of the five cuts here. Two cuts get the tenor treatment while the remaining are fleshed out by tubes like the slide bass clarinet, noseflute and homemade 8-hole clarinet. Yargh! The record opens and closes with a sax-drum duo of the most volatile variety. In between, the drumming becomes percussion and then transcends both drumming and percussion. We hear all matter of bells, skins and some dreamy tabla.
Each time I see or hear these two play together it manages to top the previous time. They truly have an extra-terrestrial level of communication, one that only seems to grow stronger. Padmanabha doesn’t just hold a beat he plays in and around Baczkowski…or Baczkowski plays in and around what Padmanabha is conjuring…Track B1 is a trip, at times sounding like much more than two people playing their insides out…often veering towards maelstrom, only to jump back and prance dreamlike through a fucking meadow…their chemistry is more like magick here. And it roars.
“Aqua Machine” is surely worth the cost and/or the search to obtain it. And the duo of Baczkowski and Padmanabha are greatly worth your attention. They burn bright and show no signs of fading.
9/10 -- Adam Richards (18 December, 2006) FOXY DIGILITALIS
Drummer/percussionist Ravi Padmanabha and saxophonist Steve Baczkowski first teamed up in the Buffalo Suicide Prevention Unit, a rough-and-tumble horn-heavy quintet led, more or less, by Baczkowski’s baritone. Prior to that group effort, on The Dim Bulb (Wet Paint), Baczkowski went head to head with saxophonist Paul Flaherty, whose recent duet recordings with madman drummer Chris Corsano (The Hated Music, The Beloved Music on Family Vineyard) set the standard for extreme free jazz duo blowouts in the post-Interstellar Space era. Tongue Rust and Lead Moth, issued in a limited release of 200 by the “no frills, just music” Utech label out of Milwaukee, is generally as blistering as you might expect. But what surprises are the moments of reflection and bits and pieces of melody that surface from the turmoil made possible by Padmanabha’s deftly light and lyrical touch, putting you in mind of Hamid Drake’s work with Peter Brötzmann. Where the Padmanabha/Baczkowski duo matches expectations for a meeting of sax and drums, Nivesana, Padmanabha’s collaboration with master hornman Daniel Carter, wipes them away. An organic blend of music that mixes fine jazz playing with exotic sonic atmospheric touches, only 3 of the 60 minutes on this disc are devoted to crashing and roaring. The rest is one improvisation after another of Carter’s creamy tone on trumpet and sax paired with Padmanabha’s chilled rhythms and seamless electronic looping, from the shuffle of “Story Out of Print” to the tabla on “The Jewel Is in the Lotus” to the hand drumming on “Remembrance”, which glides on Carter’s buttery clarinet. Self-released and modestly packaged, this CD brims with originality and an ancient, spiritual vibe and is a true find. For more information, visit www.utechrecords.com and www.ravipadman.com
by Jeff Stockton http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=22426
nivesana-This is one of the better, most focused and organically arranged duo discs that I've heard in recent memory. - BLG downtown music gallery
Ravi Padmanabha & Ed Chang - Elephant Calls [Utech Records - 2006]
Elephant calls has more than a slight eastern feeling about it. With it’s mixture of tabla textures and percussion by Ravi Padmanabha, joined by spidery, sawing and plucking acoustic guitar curtsey of New York noise maker and improviser Ed Chang. Though this does have noise element’s, it feels more focused on improvisation- more than anything. Leaving the listener with a collection of chaotic, but somehow spiritual charged tracks.
On offer are six tracks in all, three running at around the ten to firthteen minute mark and three shorter pieces. Uhtan opens the album with a nice mixture of tabla and other percussive matter. Giving the feeling of slow winding up, maybe the slow monition of an aging train, cuting through Indian country side, as guitar elements are subtle added, very much in the back ground to start with, but as the track develops Chang Cuts out more of a path though the percussive haze. Sliding strange guitar patterns/ noise and wrong sounding Spanish strums, over the erratic beat pitter - patter.
Ivory Asuras opens straight away with Changs, hectic changing tone, gone wrongs blues guitar work. With the percussive element more chaotic here, literal throwing in the kitchen sink percussive wise- be it wooden taping, box banging, wood against wood, potts and pans and tabla on speed, careering off all over the place.
Another enjoyable adventure into sound -different from what I've heard Chang do before. Just a pity it’s ltd to such a small number of 200. So really if you enjoy something a bit different in acoustic percussive improvised/ noise vein- you better be quick,before they disappear.
LEAD MOTH & TONGUE RUST(utech)
"Eight superb improvisations"
-Brian Morton.THE WIRE
Steve Baczkowski & Ravi Padmanabha - "Tongue Rust & Lead Moth" (Utech)
Here is Baczkowski collaborating with a fascinating drum/tabla player who takes a far less cacophonic and pounding approach than Corsano; instead taking the opportunity to explore gentler/abstract territories, whilst still finding time to rip shit up now and again. Whilst the two releases above mostly deal with 10-15 minute blowouts, this CD features far more concise and exploratory affairs. Perfect for when "The Beloved Music" has been blowing your brains out through your ears just a little too hard recently.
The finest preacher I ever heard began by speaking so softly, almost meekly, that I wasn’t even sure I had his vocation right. At some point, I realized that he was screaming, and that the ascent had been so beautifully controlled that I never noticed it.
I have been left with this impression many times throughout this sax-and-percussion set. Steve Baczkowski first came to my attention through a scorching live date with Paul Flaherty; he sparred tremendously with the elder player, complementing Flaherty’s l arsenal with inventiveness and timbral surprise. I then heard Suicide Prevention Unit’s debut, a group that employs both Baczkowski and Ravi Padmanabha, and that disc increased my admiration for Baczkowski’s reedwork and showed Padmanabha to be an equally exciting player.
Tongue Rust and Lead Moth is the work of two communicative improvisers unafraid to incorporate elements from all over jazz’s historical spectrum. Just for a taste, check out the opening moments of “Moth”; Padmanabha’s swinging cymbals and fat-back snare – so old-time, almost rhythm-and-blues with just that touch of off-tempo post-modern hipness – are eventually joined by an equally slinky riff from Baczkowski. It’s repeated, tweaked and drawn out, pretty but strident.
This is the kind of interplay so often evident throughout the disc. We’re neither given an Interstellar Space, where I get the impression that Trane and Ali play against rather than around each other, nor is this so much like Evan Parker and Eddie Prevost’s collaborations, which can be intensely intimate. In fact, the duo dwells in both camps, straddling the line from moment to moment without any pretense and often with stunningly cohesive results. They bob and weave around each other, trade licks where necessary while each presents a very convincingly independent narrative. Of course, a disc like this has passages that don’t work, but these are forgivable in light of what has been accomplished. Group work has clearly done this duo good, and I’m impatient for more.
By Marc Medwin DUSTED http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/2921
No standards or ballads in this exciting duo, only a continuous flux of wordless messages about the mortality of the flesh and the aspiration to transcendence, all created by the fantastic playing of Baczkowski (tenor and baritone sax) and Padmanabha (drums). These profound dialogues succeed on all accounts, achieving the result of an artistic integrity which requires a careful study of every gesture that the musicians do while prolonging their sonic intercourses. Ranging through the most disparate aspects of his timbral unconsciousness, Baczkowski is nevertheless able to conjure up scents of Ned Rothenberg and Peter Brötzmann, while also taking the opportunity of sharing his own vision in diverse territories. His convolutions are raging yet equally serene, getting finely counterbalanced by Padmanabha's rhythmical refractions which sound like a combination of disturbance and technical sapience destined to aliment the flame of active listening. Owners of their own small world, these artists show their absolute will to expand their horizons.
TOUCHING EXTREMES http://spazioinwind.libero.it/extremes/touchinghome.htm
As with so many other permutations of jazz instrumentation, there exists a prevailing opinion that saxophone and drums duos have largely been “done to death.” Steve Baczkowski brings something new to the hardly fledgling format with this collection of eight improvised duets with percussionist Ravi Padmanabha. His foghorn baritone eructations on the opening “Tongue” flex and billow against a steady drum clatter, the resulting stunted phrases regularly strong-armed into submission. “Rust” builds to an even more thunderous racket with whinnying sax blasts and bruising snare punctuations suddenly dispersing into a stretch of downcast lyricism. Padmanabha’s brushes shape a perambulating beat on the contemplative “Brain” prompting Baczkowski to reel off a succession of gnarled rhythmic trills, peppered by weird Aylerian melodic quotes and mouthpiece pops. The two actually have quite a bit in common with Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano, another powerhouse sax plus cans combo that specializes in pealing noise pocked by detours into disarming melodicism and textured interplay. Baczkowski’s meeting with that more established pair on last year’s The Dim Bulb first cemented the notion of kindred souls and it’s further borne out in the company of Padmanabha. Here, his playing is just as heated and excoriating with reeds regularly masticated into mushy pulp. Padmanabha manages a malleable balance between brawny momentum with sticks and vivid color with bowed cymbals and peripheral bells and gongs. For those who feel that such pairings begin and end with Interstellar Space or Duo Exchange this edition-of-200 memento just might alter your perceptions.
This is a particularly strong outing. The sax/drums duo has proven time and again to be a perfect format for free jazz and this one falls right in line with those other excellent contemporary duos such as Assif Tsahar and Hamid Drake or Ken Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love. And just as in those other duos, communication is almost telepathic as the musicians never fall out of step with one another.
Nivesana is a beautiful CD. A seamless integration of Indian classical music, avant garde jazz, and electronic wizardry, the CD is a collaboration between legendary multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter and percussionist Ravi Padmanabha. "Nivesana" is a Pali word with multiple meanings: it means entering, home, settling, and it also means attachment, clinging to. Part of the beauty of the CD is the way Carter and Padmanabha explore all sides of the word: the music certainly has a deep, centered quality, and yet it's also haunting, urgent with a sense of mystery and occasional melancholy.
Whenever Carter appears on a CD, there's always a wealth of sound as he draws on his mastery of saxophones, trumpet, flute, and clarinet. Combined with Padmanabha's repertoire—drums, cymbals, tabla, moorsing (jaw harp), percussion, and electronic skill—the possibilities are wide open, and the resulting music multi-layered and rich. The seven songs on Nivesana flow into each other effortlessly, creating a cohesive mood and also a sense of journey. This is one of those wonderful CDs that provide an inspiring accompaniment to creating art, whether it's writing, painting, movement, or just plain daydreaming.
Carter can hardly be praised enough; he's a master of creative music, and has played with everyone from Sun Ra to Medeski, Martin, and Wood to the No Neck Blues Band. Padmanabha is clearly a musician to watch. He's payed his dues in both the world of Indian classical music and avant garde jazz, and he's at ease taking the old forms and infusing them with a fresh, inventive energy. Nivesana is the happy result of two large talents listening to one another closely, and with any luck this duo will release more music in future days.
- Flo Wetzel SQUIDS EAR http://www.squidsear.com/cgi-bin/news/newsView.cgi?newsID=494
Padmanabha accompanies Carter as the mood requires, from delicate cymbal work and buoyant tabla rhythms to thrashing drum kit explosions. He also sequences live electronic loops that are so organic and fully integrated that it becomes almost impossible to determine what is played “live” and what is not. A dynamically varied and intriguing collection, these two make an excellent, sympathetic pair.
This is one of the better, most focused and organically arranged duo discs that I've heard in recent memory. - BLG downtown music gallery
BUFFALO SUICIDE PREVENTION UNIT(REALM OF RECORDS)
TOM CHESS & RAVI PADMANABHA - Continuance (Foot Jumbo Records; USA)
Featuring Tom Chess on oud, ney & loops and Ravi Padmanabha on tabla
& percussion. This disc was recorded live in the studio with no
overdubs. I happen to love the sound of the oud, an Arabian guitar-
like instrument that has been getting a bit more popular over the
past future years. In the fifties Monk;s bassist, Ahmed Abdul Malik,
recorded a handful of records on the oud. More recently, there has
been a bunch of fine oud players like Rabih Abou Khalil, Shanir
Blumenkranz and Basya Schecter. I hadn't heard of Tom Chess before
recently, but I know of Ravi Padmanbha from his work with Daniel
Carter and Steve Baczkowski. The ney, an Indian flute-like instrument
is also relatively rare around here, so it a good thing to find a
fine multi-instrumentalist like Mr. Chess.
All six pieces on this disc sound like ragas and all sound
great to me. Tom plays either oud or ney on each piece and solos
along with the tabla and/or percussion of Ravi. Tom also occasionally
will loop bits of percussion like an mbira (thumb piano) to accompany
the tabla. Ravi does a consistent job of creating flowing lines of
percussive magic, building and extending the groove as he progresses.
Tabla is another instrument that I love when it is played right, not
just the way it sounds. I dig the way both of these musicians move
together, their lines of notes flowing in a most mesmerizing way.
Each solo by Tom, tells a story and takes us along with him to exotic
places. Superb, at times sublime and always engaging. - BLG