David Lopato - Gendhing For a Spirit Rising

Label/Year: Global Coolant, 2017

Lineup – David Lopato: piano, keyboards, vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, Sudanese kendhang; Marty Ehrlich: alto and soprano saxophone; Lucas Pino: soprano saxophone, clarinet; Mark Feldman: violin; Erik Friedlander: cello; Bill Ware: vibraphone; Ratzo Harris: bass; Tom Rainey: drums; Michael Sarin: drums; William Moersch: marimba; I.M. Harjito: Javanese rebab; Anne Stebinger: Javanese kendhang; Marc Perlman: Javanese kendhang; John Hadfield: percussion.


World fusion is in good hands with pianist, composer, and bandleader David Lopato, who hired an eclectic A-list band for his 2-CD set outing, Gendhing For a Spirit Rising. Moving with ease between Javanese gamelan, contemporary jazz, and other South Asian sounds, Lopato’s music benefits with both the experienced and the emerging jazz artists that followed him in this adventure.

Due to the palpitating rhythmic structure and the presence of an Eberton-Friedlander virtual violin, “Landrang” and “Jalan Jiwa” made me recall Billy Bang’s Vietnam Reflections

The folk-steeped “This Life” features saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, who first outlines the free chant-like theme on alto and then improvises on soprano, handsomely backed up by Mark Feldman’s melodicism on violin. Before this stage, the bandleader had shown rhythmic inventiveness and strong sense of resolution during his statement.

Disc one comes to a conclusion with the 20-minute “Gendhing”, a ruminative, grateful, and feathery instrumental that keeps shifting without altering the musing spirit.

The second disc is filled with Western harmonic motions and brings further colors to the already kaleidoscopic palette. It features the up-and-coming saxophonist/clarinetist Lucas Pino on all four tracks.

Beboppin With Bella” stretches into a swinging bebop stance after a peaceful 3-minute introductory section established by piano, vibraphone, and percussion. Even limited to eight bars each, the soloists: Pino, Lopato, vibraphonist Bill Ware, and bassist Ratzo Harris, are quite generous in what comes to ideas. The vibist was the only one with permission to disseminate creativity to a greater extent after extra time has been given to him.

Jakshi” draws Middle Eastern snaky melodies mounted in unison over the audacious percussive joy put up by Sarin and John Hadfield.

The two concluding pieces, “Ambush and Aftermath” and “Peace March”, are installments of the 911 Suite, which considers portraying Lopato’s experience of living up the street from World Trade Center. Surprisingly robust in conception, the former tune takes the form of an avant-jazz spirit call, in the same line of adventurers like Albert Ayler and Oliver Lake. As a consequence of the textural surfaces that arose from Lopato’s rambling runs and dissonant flurries, a fine 6/8 groove is settled to welcome Pino’s unceremonious creative output. The final piece is a static, touching poem created with noble intentions and conveying a new sense of liberation.

Gendhing For a Spirit Rising spills grip and humanity, reinforcing the idea that the exquisiteness of world music and the openness of jazz are not mutually exclusive.

       Grade  B+

       Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
02 (cd1) - This Life ► 03 (cd2) - Ambush and Aftermath ► 04 (cd2) - Peace March