Spun: Doug Cox and Salil Bhatt

By Ken Clarke

East meets west in this unique collaboration between Canadian blues guitarist Doug Cox and India’s veena player Salil Bhatt. The blending of such disparate elements as blues music and classical East Indian stylings is not as awkward sounding as one might imagine.

Although classical East Indian music is centuries older than the blues, both forms are heavily reliant on self expression through improvisation. It’s the obvious differences between the two styles, though, that make this disc successful.

Slide To Freedom is aptly titled, as Cox utilizes his slide prowess on his resophonic guitars, while Bhatt slides his way around his 20-stringed satvik veena which rests horizontally on his lap. Both players are virtuosos on their respective instruments and provide an aural treat through their spontaneous jamming. Holding it all together is Ramkumar Mishra’s dextrous tabla playing. His warm sounding percussion adds the perfect contrast to the abundant metallic sliding.

While the spirit and intent of this union is one of fusion, it comes across more as a back and forth trip between the two genres. The few blues tunes feature East Indian accompaniment while the latter features little or no blues elements. Slide To Freedom will definitely go over smoother with fans of East Indian music than it will to those seeking a hard-core blues fix.

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