Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cool to the G

Jazz artist Praful brings coolness to retro Gujju names. Sure, the guy did some dumb stuff during his day, like spending time with Osho, but who hasn't (done weird stuff, not spend time with Osho.)

His name came up when chatting with a friend about Bebel Gilberto's upcoming grassroots album and how Diana Krall deserves a Grammy for best jazz vocal album (Nancy Wilson won). This friend -- a freakish jazz artist who swears by Charlie Parker -- then switched to Praful.

"Pray-fool," he said, "is amazing. You have to hear him." A Gujju wielding a tenor sax playing bossa nova? I just couldn't believe it.

So I googled. And his Web site, which purveyed interesting sounds, the type you'd hear at Pearl's or on a Buddha Bar CD. He looks Indian, born in Germany, cheesily noting that he's a "citizen of the world." He's also a 5th kyu in Judo, which isn't really saying a lot (it's really far from a black belt.)

He seemed like an Oliver Rajamani-Bally Sagoo mix. Rajamani in the number of instruments he plays (sax and flute/bansuri), his love for world music. Also like Rajamani in his self-obsession with music, forgetting the audience after a while and striking his own, unexplainable tangent in Roma/world music rendition. Bally Sagoo in that he can hit the right beats and mix it up.

Pray-fool's real story comes after he lost his "voice," his inner sanctum of peace, karma et al. To confront "burnout and personal problems, he went in search for inner peace and his own lost voice. He spent 6 months in India in the Ashram of the enlightened teacher Osho, followed by 6 months in Brazil."

The enlightened Osho openly distributed dope and loved the idea of a ménage-à-trois, but he's changed the lives of many people, including Praful. After six months with Osho's gang, Praful was back on his feet, re-obsessed with the sax and collaborating with some really cool sounding groups. He topped the U.S. jazz charts with the single "Sigh".

It's fun tracking the Indian alternative music scene -- through desi parties, BBC's Asian Network radio station or bootleg CDs -- but somehow Praful's passed my radar, even during my days in London, where the Indian alt scene's just booming.

He collaborated with the radical chant artist Deva Premal, who I can't bear, but any work with her means Praful has to be good. I suspect his stuff's gonna be like The Thievery Corporation, or similar, with some more Indian riffs to it. In any case, should make for interesting hear given his background. Next stop: Amoeba!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home