Chaal Baby (NCM East)
Sunny Jain is a dholi. His instrument of choice is the dhol, a double-sided, barrel-shaped, drum from northern India, which he beats slung over one shoulder. His previous efforts include the albums As Is (2002) and Mango Festival (2004), both of which also featured the Pakistani American guitarist Rez Abbasi and other musicians. Red Baraat, a New York group led by Jain, specializes in popular songs from Bollywood and the Punjab region, as well as originals like Jain’s title track, which has a very cool, strutting groove. The disc opens with “Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle),” a Hindi tune strong on drums, horns, and rhythmic shouts. There are energetic solos by Arun Luthra on soprano sax and Dave Smith on trombone, plus red-hot rhythm by percussionists Jain and Rohin Khemani and bouncy sousaphone-playing by John Altieri. It’s a madcap blend of the sounds of New Orleans and India. The Punjabi hit “Tunak Tunak Tun” starts off with mouth rhythm, one more element in this heady musical stew. It brings to mind a street festival and colorful dancers in abandon. Luthra’s solo is particularly feral. The party slows down for Kheman’s “Arcana,” and then bounces back for another Punjabi tune, “Hey Jamalo.” This is nothing but wild, loose, and fun. Good luck just sitting there with this music playing.