Arun Ghosh + Jason Singh at Corsica Studios - EFG London Jazz Festival 2018


Corsica Studios was treated to a night of weird and wonderful sounds by Arun Ghosh and friends midway through the 2018 London Jazz Festival. Following the unbefitting default ‘jazz gig’ playlist, the audience were hypnotised by sound-artist Jason Singh. Beginning solo, Singh cooked cinematic drones with bubbling beatboxing and smatterings of Kannakol (vocalising of Indian percussion sounds) in a cauldron of electronic and vocal inventions. Multi-instrumentalist Alicia Gardener-Trejo joined Singh onstage, and although her bass clarinet and chirping flute were occasionally overpowered by Singh’s earth-rumbling effects, their duets were as beautiful as they were strange.

Ever-grinning ringleader Ghosh led his eight-piece band with wide-eyed energy, hopping madly about the stage, clarinet in (often one) hand. The 2018 Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year was flanked by tenor saxophonists Chelsea Carmichael and Idris Rahman, who bolstered the frontline against a powerhouse four piece rhythm section and Singh’s electronic wizardry. In extended, gritty vamps like ‘Dagger Dance’ and ‘Snakebite’, the twin tenors of Carmichael and Rahman showed flashes of magic. In a brilliant contrast to the grungy back-beats, a mind-bending rhythmic duet between drummer Sarathy Korwar and Singh’s Kannakol led into a song written for god Shiva. Opening with flowery arpeggios from Ghosh’s clarinet, Korwar, Singh and keyboardist Jessica Lauren painted a starry, rippling backdrop to tell the Hindu story of creation. The irresistibly funky ‘Punjabi Girl’ really got feet moving before a rousing encore of Lennon’s ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.

Ghosh and his group tackle any anxieties about genre head-on, by slinging in ingredients of rock, Punjabi music and spiritual jazz, and asking questions later. In this melting pot of sound, Ghosh consciously reflects a society in which celebration of cultural diversity is needed more than ever.

Tom Barber