|Marc Rossi (piano, keyboards); Lance Van Lanten (sax, flute); Bill Urmson (bass); Mauricio Zottarelli (drums, Percussion); Geetha Bennett (vocals); Bruce Arnold (guitar); Prasanna (guitar).
The mandala spins and our world turns with it... As a map of one's internal universe, the mandala represents the cosmos from a personalized human perspective. Over two weeks I've listened to tracks of Hidden Mandala, back and forth interleaved with several mainstream small-band jazz offerings, and find its messages and contexts far more uplifting and exuberant than most. Rossi's vibrant musical textures swirl and surge with canny delight; his variegated pieces, shot through with surprise twists, arching melodies, and exciting polyrhythms, challenge the mind and surprise the ear at every turn. Marc's eastern interests blossomed from childhood exposure to flamenco guitars and broaden through duos with sitar, veena, tabla, and North and South Indian groups.
Rossi's refinement of a distinctive voice as composer and player is due in part to having absorbed much from his major influences. From Jimmy Giuffre, he draws exquisite delicacy of taste and gentle humor. From George Russell, a robust and overarching system, hamonic daring, and a keen cultural balance. From Indian influences (like Geetha Bennett, Peter Row) a transcendent spirituality, overtones of reverberant nirvana, and deep inward focus. From Stan Strickland's Ascension, bold blues and R&B, and the easy joie de vivre of dance clubs. As for achieving orchestration in a nutshell, it's hard to imagine that the rich panoply of voices herein never exceeds five musicians (with almost no overdubs, except occasional doubling of Geetha's voice, Lance's multi-layered flutes on the title track, and MIDI sweetening on Marc's acoustic piano.)
Having explored and expanded his gift of musical tongues, Rossi seeks the kernel of clarity amid complexity -- the center of the mandala. His widened visions encompass unusual and effective fusions of western and eastern forms and scales. Echoes of call and response (basic to black blues and indeed all world music) resonate between tracks on these CDs and Rossi's musical history, as this current group reunites members of 1997's We Must Continue and invites in perfectly unique guests to this fresh, celebratory collaboration. Listen and enjoy!