Arnab Sengupta’s Leap of Faith is Boundless

By Deuce

If ever you were to hit the lab and crank out an album, the best way to do it is as Arnab Sengupta did on his latest release, Leap of Faith. Including Zak Karolic, who’s credited with recording the vocals and getting the entire piece mixed and mastered, there’s no fewer than 12 musicians, vocalists, special guests, and feature artists on this collection of tunes.

Mind you, the majority are either playing real live instruments, or hitting the vocal booth in a way that does the former justice. With such a cast of characters, these winning numbers, and everything from live horns to guitars to percussion, how could Sengupta lose?

That’s just the thing—he doesn’t. At least not on this outing, which boasts numbers like “This Way”, a two-step, jitterbug affair if ever there was one. The tune is outfitted by a nice little keyboard riff (more than likely manned by Sengupta himself) that grooves all on its own—to say nothing of its impact with the scattershot drumming and bass close atop it.

There’s a female singer who takes advantage of this combination, but the music sounds so good her involvement is almost superfluous, in parts—which is a testament to the sheer musicianship displayed here.

Ditto for the opening number, “Face in the Crowd”, in which the drummer goes to town—without so much as a solo—so tough that he practically dominates the track on his own. Props go out to Matias Menarguez for mastering that instrument on this tune. His playing is deft, adroit, superbly swift, and characterized by an almost incessant snare and kicks equally as expeditious.

The bass player has no problem keeping up with him, which works to the song’s advantage. Still, the best moments are when the horns truly open up and the female vocalist (who looks to be Anshu Jha, most likely) gets to scatting to elevate the energy on what’s already a hyper track—courtesy of Menarguez’s efforts.

The guitar work on “Alone but not Lonely” is something that simply needs to be heard to be understood. It’s suggestive of the best of George Benson’s work when he embarked on a duo with Freddie Hubbard at the end of the latter’s Straight Life LP, or some of the duets Charles Lloyd put down with a guitar player on Of Course, Of Course. The drums play the background for a significant part of this one, while the guitarist (Sengupta again), matches the female vocalist note for note in a plaintive ballad that’s simply timeless.

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