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CD Review: Red Baraat

Published: Thursday, December 17, 2009

Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011 14:02

Red Baraat
Chaal Baby
(Sinj Records)
Grade: B+Ethnomusicological sourcing of rhythm-based world-music fusions has its own edifying appeal - but if the jams are no fun, who cares? Can't fake the funk. That's not a problem with Red Baraat, an irresistible "dhol 'n' brass" nine-piece from New York City directed by acclaimed drummer Sunny Jain. It's got the infectious allure of a rolling New Orleans brass band (bottom-ended by some deep sousaphone) crossed with the giddy beats of bhangra, the North Indian feel-good style that has taken root all over the world, particularly in subcontinental immigrant communities (see the dancing wedding-goers in "Bend It Like Beckham").

Raised in Rochester by Punjabi parents, Jain has drummed since age 5, including jazz gigs, with international Sufi-rock band Junoon, on Broadway in the Bombay Dreams production and in numerous ensembles of his own. Red Baraat originally formed to play at Jain's own nuptials a few years ago. The debut album's lead track is indeed "Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle)," and baraat is a Hindi term for marriage procession. In the last year, RB has captivated crowds beyond the wedding circuit with Jain leading the funked-up action on the two-sided Punjabi dhol drum. He invented "dhol 'n' brass" - and this record proves that Red Baraat rules it.

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