By JERRY D’SOUZA, AllAboutJazz.com, February 08, 2006
Ramona Borthwick makes quite an impression with her first internationalÂ release. She and husband Noel Borthwick were active on the music scene inÂ Mumbai (Bombay) during the ’80s, before they moved to Ottawa and then toÂ Boston. Given her training in Western classical music and the clear empathyÂ she has for Indian classical music, it is not Â surprising that both areÂ present and entwined with jazz on A New Leaf.
Mating genres and making them productive is not an easy accomplishment.Â Ramona Borthwick, however, brings this to fruition, whether by melding aÂ rustic Indian rhythm with the Argentinean chacarera or voicing IndianÂ classical konakkol (akin to jazz scatting) and slipping into jazz waters.Â The former appears on â€œGarbareroâ€ with Esperanza Spalding (vocal
percussion) and Fernando Huergo (bass) in cleave. The rhythm jumps up andÂ kicks when Ramona comes in singing a folk-tinged melody, the two voicesÂ interweaving in heady conversation. The base is supple, but trumpeter PhilÂ Grenadier adds a different tack by providing tension and then releasing itÂ in a jaunt. Then the tune goes into the mainstream with a nice swinging airÂ when Noel Borthwick injects thick round notes on his guitar.
â€œBaarah Sur,â€ which in the Hindi language means â€œTwelve Tones,â€Â swings along on Grenadierâ€™s trumpet, his line broken by interjections thatÂ add interesting signposts to his journey. Borthwick shows her sense forÂ jazz harmony and imagination as she expounds on the rhythm and extends theÂ melody. The shift of pulse and timbre craft a nice little niche for theÂ tune. The pianist evokes and leisurely unravels an Indian melody on â€œHome.â€Â The air rustles on the cymbals of Ziv Ravitz, the accents adding to theÂ atmosphere.
A new leaf it certainly is, and a fine debut, indeed!