Posted on December 5, 2020
The Los Angeles music scene, famed for its slick studio bands and hit factories, has a reputation for perfection rather than experimentation. Diaspora Kid subverts the expectations of its origin with a genuinely fresh fusion of jazz and Karnatic (South Indian classical) traditions. Aditya Parkash is an LA native with deep roots in Chennai. As a teenager the vocalist joined the legendary Ravi Shankar’s touring band. Since Ravi popularized the pathway of East-West cultural exchange it has become well trodden and frequently passé. Aditya Prakash’s ensemble of LA jazz musicians and Chennai classical masters revitalize the familiar formula. Opener ‘Greenwood’ builds a polyrhythmic bol (rhythmic vocalization) into a galloping jazz groove. The lush string arrangements on ‘Irish Song’ conjure pastoral scenes worthy of Aaron Copland, which are lent a Celtic lilt by the lithe flute playing of Hitomi Oba. LA has recently hosted a jazz renaissance led by Kamasi Washington, a saxophonist known for collaborating with hip-hop superstar and Compton native Kendrick Lamar. Aditya builds on this energy, delivering a record not quite straight outta Chennai but all the richer for having absorbed the diaspora experience.