Shez Raja ‘Gurutopia’ (Dot Time) 4/5

Gurutopia is the fifth album to be released from the Shez Raja Collective.
Shez’s website describes his music as “a sonic kaleidoscope of Indo-jazz, thundering funk, tuneful ragas and euphoric groove”. Electric bassist Shez has also been described as a genre-buster, and this album makes it easy to understand why. Indeed, the blend of musical styles on show here includes most of the above, with a smattering of rock also thrown in for good measure.
Within the tracks, there are clear nods to Eastern music and Miles Davis. Perhaps it was my imagination running riot, but while listening, my mind, racing with the heady mix of styles, instruments and melodies also detected numerous serene slivers of sound, bringing back memories of delicious morsels from artists such as Van Morrison, Alison Krauss and possibly even Judie Tzuke.
Musicianship is always of a very high standard. There are excellent solos from fine artists such as Randy Brecker on Trumpet, Vasilis Xenopoulos on saxophone and the delicate voice of Polish born singer Monika Lidke. Chris Nickolls’s drumming is always tight and engaging. Steve Pringle and Alex Stanford on keyboards, violinist Pascal Roggen and Mike Stern on guitar complete the brilliant line up.

The album features eight tracks comprising: Rabbits, Maharaja, Song For John, My Imaginary Friend, Sketches Of Space, RocknRolla, Prime time and Shiva Mantra.
The band was evidently having a good time while recording this album. No, more like an absolute blast. There is a pretty good chance that it will put a smile on your face as well.

Tony Stewart