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Review

In Fusing Improv & Classical, Pianst Tazim Sheikh Turns In A Solid Debut Effort with “DWAM”

For a genre that is as famously improvisational as jazz, it sure has seen countless mergers with genres that might be considered contemporary – ones that follow patterns that can be called reliable, albeit traditional. Its avant garde nature finds itself in a precarious spot in music, where it enjoys an exclusivity reserved for forms similar in its sophisticated nature, but not the accessibility to the masses that other genres with clearly outlined parameters – such as classical music – relish. This oxymoronic quality of the genre, defined by its amorphous outlook on rhythms, makes it prime for experimentation. And Tazim Sheikh’s debut EP, “DWAM”, operates from a similar conceptual theory.

With years of classical training under his belt, the artist takes on an ambitious mission for his kick-off, which he describes as a “rare fusion of Progressive Jazz and Hindustani Classical Music”. Clocking in at a little under 23 minutes, the EP showcases the artist’s deft hands at the piano, as well as the larger sonic scope of the arrangement of the project, with Sheikh credited solely for composing all five tracks. The EP opens with “Payeliya Jhankar Mori”, the most conspicuous of the thesis statement, with elements of the Indian classical instrument of the sarengi interspersed with sharp cadenced jazz drums, along with a rhythm section consisting of the bass guitar and the piano. “Atlantis” follows as a melancholic meditation experimenting with Indian classical sounds employing bass and guitar. The title track, “Dwam” balances an optimistic sound with creeping mellow undertones in a piano-centric composition. “Ether” is a close second after the opener that aims to hold up the promise of the fusion of the elements, with a distinctly Indian classical fabric. The EP closes with “Majhi Pal Tule De”, an expansive 5-minute collaboration of the jazz sensibilities that the project was so neatly based on with the artist’s extensive music training moulded in an Indian backdrop.

Combining the unmistakably spontaneous nature of jazz with his academic understanding of Indian classical music, Tazim Sheikh chooses to premiere his technique with a lofty yet commendable concept, which is as stylistic as it is bold.

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