Posted: September 18th, 2008
Adventurous fusions of Indian, psychedelic, rock, funk, and jazz music by one of the great risk-takers of the electric guitar. Baiyina features fluid guitars, exotic Indian percussion and drone instruments, unique time signatures, swirling flute and sax, deep grooving bass, and in-the-pocket drumming, making it one of the most unique acid-drenched albums to come out of the late 60s. As the album’s subtitle reads: “A psychedelic excursion through the magical mysteries of the Koran.” Indeed, each track takes its inspiration and name from different parts of the Koran.
This was a pioneering endeavor in fusion, and as such it is free of the glitzy commercial touches that have rightly given the genre a bad name. Unlike most jazz guitarists, Martino is not a conservative background player or a self-indulgent soloist intent on putting his technical skills on display. A passionate musician of substantial talents, he was often the guitarist of choice for the Young Lions of the avant-garde.
On the title track, Martino and company establish a contagious rhythm that is both funky and exotic. True to the dictates of Indian music, the rhythm is held until it captivates the listener in hypnotic bliss, providing the perfect context for Martino to launch into one of his inspired explorations. “Where Love’s a Grown-Up God” is built around a spicy groove that was the likely source of inspiration for Curtis Mayfield‘s “Pusherman” off of the Super Fly soundtrack. ” Martino’s ideas flow as if divinely inspired during a masterful guitar break in the middle of the tune. This track is absolutely golden. On “Distant Land,” Gregory Herbert‘s sax solo builds with brooding intensity over the unusual time signatures. Bass giant Richard Davis is miraculous, effortlessly inventing Indian-groove music as if it had been in his head for years.
Ahead of its time, Baiyina is a complex and cross-cultural excursion into a mystical and funky realm. Perfectly complements a dinner of saffron-spiced soul food.
- Pat Martino – Guitar
- Bobby Rose – Second Guitar
- Gergory Herbert – Alto Sax, Flute
- Richard Davis – Bass
- Charlie Presip – Drums
- Reggie Ferguson – Tabala
- Balakrishna – Tamboura
- Baiyina (11:54)
- Where Love’s A Grown-Up God (6:35)
- Israfel (6:18)
- Distant Land (13:08)