Steve Smith, George Brooks, Prasanna

Raga Bop Trio
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Steve Smith, George Brooks, Prasanna

Raga Bop TrioBefore joining Journey in 1978, Steve Smith drummed on jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty’s Enigmatic Ocean, and before he left the band in ’83, he had already formed the fusion group Vital Information.

The playing of saxophonist George Brooks ranges from blues to avant garde; his resume includes Harvey Mandel, Frankie Lee, Henry Kaiser, Zakir Hussain, and John McLaughlin. Guitarist Prasanna, who hails from India and graduated from Berklee, has released several CDs.

The angular, hyper opener, “Tug Of War,” begins as a guitar/drum duo before Brooks’ alto doubles Prasanna’s melody. The sax lays out for an impressive guitar solo using sitar-like slides, jazz chords, and plenty of speed. Brooks’ “Miss Oma,” in the vein of a lilting Sonny Rollins calypso, is highlighted by Prasanna’s solo bursts that combine blues, Indian, and a touch of Hendrix. On “Love And Hunger,” Prasanna alternates between a droning arpeggio vamp and very capable jazz comping, making the absence of a bassist virtually unnoticeable. On “Ironically,” Smith even gets into some “konnakol” (vocal percussion), punctuated by staccato chords from Prasanna. “Dubai Dance” contains the guitarist’s bluesiest playing, squeezing some Clapton-esque bends from his Paul Reed Smith before a flurry of chords and descending pull-offs.

The album was recorded live in the studio in four days, only three months after the group’s first rehearsal – testament to the formidable talents of all three players. Their sound is fresh and new and likely to please, whether you’re coming from a jazz, rock, or classical bent – East or West.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’10 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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