Red Baraat ‘Chaal baby’ (Jaro) 4/5

If world fusion was coined with anyone particular in mind, then New York-based group Red Baraat would surely be the ideal recipients. A recent UK tour and appearance on Radio 3’s Friday world roots programme can only have enhanced their reputation on this side of the pond. Stylistically their music takes in the percussive bhangra music that has become so popular among Indian communities the world over, but the real innovation here is to have allied this with the funky brass of New Orleans. The title track sets the pac e for the rest of the album with pulsating percussive rhythms, collective chanting and the tightest of brass that even New Orleans could muster. Possibly the strongest track of all is the melodic brass-led ‘Mehendi laga ke rakhna’ and Red Baraat would be well served replicating this at just below full pace style. Elsewhere there is a heightening of tension on ‘Baraat to nowhere’ and ‘Shruggy Ji’ is in a similar vein.
The raison d’être of this group is to bring a smile to people’s faces and encourage them to get up and dance to the music. This is no better illustrated than on ‘Punjabi wedding song (Balle Balle)’ which actually has the feel of a live procession taking place before one’s eyes. Breakneck speed is reached on ‘Drum ‘n’ bass. If one minor gripe could be made of the group’s repertoire, it is that it could be a little more varied in tempo. That being said, in live performance the sound is a joy to behold. Tim Stenhouse

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