Aman Jagwani Hits Home With This Place LP

By Deuce

All of the wonders of live musicianship—of actually playing music, as opposed to programming it—are evidenced in This Place, the sophomore album from producer/composer/drummer Aman Jagwani.

For instance, there’s the delight of improvisation, which imbues the collection with an obvious jazz-inspired motif. Whether it’s the horn player devising riffs in the midst of verses on “Elastic Slumber”, or the keyboardist doing whatever he wants (with wild success) on any of the seven tracks, you can hear the spontaneity in the playing of music that simply isn’t found with most programmed efforts.

This approach also gives you the penchant for scatting, which vocalist Anubha Kaul displays on “Slumber” to add to the overall live feel of the project. Although scatting isn’t necessarily playing music, it’s easy to see the correlation of this form of expression with that of jamming on instruments.

But more importantly perhaps, there’s musical elements that have become all but unconventional like the actual altering of a tune’s tempo, which likely is best displayed on “Now”, a number that rapidly eschews its upbeat EDM sensibilties for a more laid back appeal. Doubtlessly, actually playing music adds to a composition’s overall richness and fullness. The aesthetic shifts from perfection (of a groove or loop) to expression (of the scope of an instrument or vocalist).

But sometimes, as is assuredly the case on the closer “Breakthrough”, these two perspectives merge with splendid effects. For about the first minute or so the drum pattern is restrained to something that almost sounds conventional, the bass kicks in with a nice swath of notes in the direction of Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness”, Kaul plays the back with delicious crooning, and keyboardist Ron Cha (the MVP of the bunch) erupts into a proliferation of melodic trickling of sound, if you will. This part of the tune belies jazz, genre, and just about anything else—it’s simply something you would bump…the louder, the better.

Cha’s playing is brilliantly exception on “Palm Tree”, a ballad of sorts that works as a jazzy type of track. His performance and that of the others ensures that this Long Player won’t get lost in the interminable parade of new releases, but will remain salient for time to come.  

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