Double bassist Harish Raghavan’s debut album as leader, ‘Calls for Action’, delivers the fundamental essence of jazz as a progressive, evolutionary art form. His markedly lithe quintet features a band of bright new stars, including alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Micah Thomas, vibraphonist Joel Ross and drummer Kweku Sumbry.
Since arriving to New York from Illinois by way of California in 2007, Raghavan has recorded and toured with numerous artists including Ambrose
Akinmusire, Kurt Elling, Taylor Eigsti, Vijay Iyer, Charles Lloyd, Walter Smith III, Logan Richardson and Eric Harland.
The group’s connection on ‘Calls For Action’ is tangible across this program of originals. “Once tunes became second nature, we could deconstruct them. Much of the music comes from my own improvisations on bass, expanded to a quintet format. The album title alludes to that evolution: a wake up call. Like a tune where each section changes and dramatically shifts the energy of the piece. In recording, I wanted to capture the energy of the band playing live.”
Following his bass intro, Raghavan’s first four tracks represent a suite unto itself, and the earliest material written for the quintet. Feel the pulsating momentum of “Newe”, where shared alto saxophone and vibraphone lines sparkle over the leader’s bass-led melody and relish “Sangeet”, conjuring the euphoria of his recent wedding. ‘Los Angeles’ evokes a cityscape’s afterglow with elegant, sustained phrases and percussive flair; and the other tracks include the yearning “I’ll Go and Come Back” (a loose translation of ‘Goodbye’ from Raghavan’s parents’ mother tongue of Tamil) references his thoughts on an older generation moving on.
”I tried to create pieces that would allow the band to explore as a whole but also allow the members total freedom to interpret,” explains Raghavan. The vitality of ‘Calls for Action’ is unquestionably testament to all that.