Eliminating the Fear Factor

I love the jam band scene because it represents an effort to recapture a sense of social purpose in music,” says guitarist Fareed Haque, co-founder of the jam-supergroup Garaj Mahal. “Jam band music isn’t based on sound alone. Like all good music, it’s based on its relationship to society and serves a function. For instance, most of Bach’s great concertos wouldn’t have been written were it not for church on Sunday and the King’s social occasions. Good music exists because there is somebody there to listen to it, need it, and move to it. To lose those contexts is the death of music.”

Indeed, gigs by Garaj Mahal and his own Fareed Haque Group are celebrations as much as they are concerts. But even though a party-like atmosphere abounds, both groups represent a serious and innovative effort to integrate world music into expansive, improvisation-based jazz-rock structures. Haque’s new solo CD Cosmic Hug exemplifies that approach with its focus on seamlessly weaving Indian classical music influences into the mix. But even with Haque’s South Asian roots, making the connection between diverse musics was an evolutionary process.


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