When Zoe and Idris Rahman first performed some of the music they had gleaned from their father’s tape collection it comprised the second half of a concert, and the band was Zoe’s trio (Ollie Hayhurst on bass, Gene Calderazzo on drums) plus Idris on clarinet and Kuljit Bhamra on percussion.
Now an album has been recorded, violin, vocals and more percussion have been added, and the music more than fills a whole evening.
The Bengali popular music of Rabindranath Tagore and others has long serpentine melody lines and gently propulsive rhythms that easily hook themselves into the memory while tugging equally at the heart. Singer Gaurob delivers them with great sensitivity and grace.
On the surface they could be just pretty, but there is an underlying muscularity and deeper complexity of emotion to be found.
Zoe ripples up and down the piano, searching for spicy discords to underpin the melodies and unexpected rhythmic accents to challenge and delight Calderazzo. Idris plays the clarinet with his whole body, rising on his toes, twisting his torso, the veins standing out on his forehead as he circular breathes through an accompanying drone or pushes the clarinet to a richer, more guttural tone. Violinist Samy Bishai plays effortless harmony melodies and engages in some free jazz interplay with the Rahmans.
This is a positive fusion of musical styles and traditions. Long may the Rahmans explore it.