by Josef Woodard

Paul-Z.-Livingstone-1.gifINDIA CALLING: Of the
world’s serious music forms, Indian classical tradition holds a
special, profound place. With its centuries-old vocabulary and
emphasis on improvisation and oneness of mind, soul, fingers, and
instrument, the music reaches depths of emotionality and spiritual
resonance untapped by other musical forms.

Santa Barbara gets a fair share of serious Indian music, though
we could always use more. UCSB has hosted concerts by the
remarkable V. M. Bhatt — on his customized slide guitar — and
others just below the radar of household name fame, and we get
occasional appearances by lofty musicians in the field. Last spring
at the Arlington, Ravi Shankar made a stop, performing with his
gifted daughter Anoushka, who also showed the capacity for artful
cross-breeding of Indian music and Western ideas in her opening

Perhaps the finest radio show in the area (sez this biased
reporter) is The India Show, a longstanding institution Saturday
afternoons on KCSB 91.9 FM. Divided between an hour of classical
music — both Hindustani and Carnatic traditions — and an hour of
the unique musical culture of Hindi film music, the show connects
the listener with a distant yet immediately alluring and deep

This Saturday, September 2, at the Center Stage Theater, the
Hindustani musical cause pays a visit, when sitarist Paul Z.
Livingstone performs a concert of evening ragas and music from
India and Nepal, along with tabla player Gregg Johnson. This is the
kickoff event of what will hopefully be a continuing series of
Eastern classical music shows under the rubric “Get Inspired,”
sponsored by the Future Traditions Foundation.

Born in Beirut but based in Los Angeles for many years,
Livingstone has devoted himself to the traditional ragas of
Hindustani music, but has also been involved with the careful
blending of East and West in his work. He has done session work
with Ozomatli and Alanis Morissette, among many others, and has
freely stitched elements of Indian music, jazz, electronica, Latin,
and other ideas in his Arohi Ensemble. His latest CD is The Salaam
Suite, another world beat-ish merger project.

At Center Stage, though, he will play it straight. One base of
operations for Livingstone has been Cal Arts, where he studied with
the late Amiya Dasgupta and Rajeev Taranath (as well as Ravi
Shankar). Livingstone also now teaches at Cal Arts, founded by an
idealist named Walt Disney. The presence of Cal Arts, along with
other pockets of so-called world music and specifically Indian
music intrigue in Southern California — including at UCSB — have
helped to make this corner of the globe a conducive climate for
that stirring musical entity. FRINGE PRODUCT: Speaking of
profound traditions in the musical universe, let us now praise the
ballad-playing of great jazz pianists. There is something uniquely
moving about the quality of introspection from a well-played ballad
on piano. For proof of this theory, proceed directly to Enrico
Pieranunzi’s new album, Ballads (CamJazz), recorded with his
longtime allies Marc Johnson on bass and Joey Baron on drums.

Pieranunzi, a great Italian musician, is a poetic musical force
and a name well-known to any jazz piano fan, but not nearly as well
known as it should be on the general scene. He projects
sensitivity, poise, and a sense of exploration in his playing, as
well as his writing, which begs to be called “Euro-jazz” for its
incorporation of classical elements and harmonies beyond the
American ken. On the coolly meditative Ballads, Pieranunzi includes
two standards — “These Foolish Things” and Billy Strayhorn’s “A
Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” (one of the greatest of jazz
ballads) — and a stylistically suited piece by Baron, whose own
compositional voice is a lovesome and underrated thing.

The lovely, mood-lit album closes with the pianist’s “Cabiria’s
Dream,” a wistful little tune laid out impressionistically over the
trio’s unstretched canvas of a structure. Meditations are made of
this. (Got e?


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.