On their 2005 recording debut "Homework", The Richie Barshay Project explores the common ground between Jazz and a variety of world rhythms. Inspired by studies of Indian tabla drumming, with a foundation in Jazz and Latin-American music, the new full-length CD explores these influences in an improvisational setting. With special guests including the legendary Herbie Hancock, the listener is taken on a journey through a range of exotic musical textures, experiencing a fresh rhythmic approach to World Jazz fusion.
In an effort to stretch the boundaries of world rhythms, "Homework" incorporates different percussion instruments in new combinations. Using rhythms from across the globe, including India and Latin America, the Richie Barshay Project creates a unique musical setting for improvisation over original grooves. On Barshay's composition - the title track "Homework" featuring special guest Herbie Hancock on piano and synthesizers - the band interprets the Indian rhythmic concept of tihai combined with a contemporary Jazz instrumentation, creating a fresh approach to groove-based playing. The sound is unique in it's elegant use of percussion, surprising the listener with rhythms not normally heard in a Jazz setting, bringing the euphoric groove to the forefront.
4. Return voyage
5. Trinkle tinkle
8. The last gasp
9. No u don't
10. Sim shalom_payer for peace
13. Solo live*
* Bonus track
With special guests:
Herbie Hancock, piano (1,2,7), keyboard (2)
Reinaldo de Jesus, congas, djembe, bell (3,7,11)
Aoife O'Donovan, voice (10)
Michael Winograd, clarinet (10)
Carmen Staaf, accordion (10)
Josh Feinberg, sitar (4)
All compositions by Richie Barshay except #5 by Thelonious Monk, #8 by Daniel Blake & #10 tradicional.
Homeworks highlights are many, but a few tracks deserve special comment from Barshay.
That comes out of Peacock, which ends in a 6/8 Afro Cuban thing, then I did a cross fade into this drone box part of the sitar, a total fade into the world of India. That is like sailing on a ship but with the traditional instruments. It is really where I tried to stretch out on the idea of the tabla together with the drum set.
Daniel Blake and I used to have a group called Tabla Underground; we regularly put jazz standards over tukras, these long Indian compositions. And the Monk tune that fit the best with a tukra was Trinkle Tinkle. That was really using the traditional instruments to explore a jazz context with blowing.
That is 4/4, an interlude, a duo with Reinaldo de Jesus. Pretty much a straight up combination of some Afro Caribbean rhythms with the Indian compositions, but shorter ones, they are really ti-hais, not tukras. Small chunks that happen three times to come out as 4/4. Afro Caribbean music
has breaks, but all these breaks are taken from a series of ti-hais, these 1000 year old Indian compositions. There are five or six in a series, you will hear 16 bars of Mozambique, bomba, guaguanco, but when it breaks in between it is the ti-hais in coordinated unisons.
Sim Shalom/Prayer for Peace (trad)
That is like a bulgar rhythm, that traditional 4/4 snare drum Klezmer rhythm. It goes back and forth between tabla and kanjira, a south Indian drum. Back and forth between traditional snare sound and more instrumental blowing. That is an homage to my Jewish background.
I think it goes beyond a merging of cultures, Barshay says in explaining his goal for Homework. Its about trying to take risks where you have no idea what the outcome will be. Some people base their fuel for making art and making music in schooling themselves in the tradition and studying
hard and staying with one thing. That is fine. But I am more interested in always stretching; never staying content for too long. So always stretching these ideas and not being afraid to take a format that has very little esthetic background, like no walking bass or ride cymbal, and stretching it.
Homework is about exploring esthetics more than playing and blowing, he continues. I was going for more of a compositional thing, combining tabla and exploring esthetics, where is it all coming from. A lot of world fusion will take a traditional rhythm or melody and merge them, but there are very few actual traditional rhythms on this album. As a drummer I am going for something brand new with the rhythms. The rhythms on Homework are really coming from North India; it is not me sitting down in a true jazz esthetic coming up with a new idea. It is more trying to sound original with old traditions.