The stage contained so many instruments that possibly not all of them were in the same postcode. Yet there was one musician present who can create magic as much with his hands and mouth as with tablas, drum kit and cajon, and so it proved as percussionist Trilok Gurtu finger-snapped, hummed and conducted the audience in an encore signed off with the message that “we are all one.”
Gurtu and his partner in this collaboration, Evelyn Glennie, have so much music inside them that they made the project’s title seem inadequate. It may have had its bitty and becalmed moments but for the majority of the time it was stunning. Glennie’s fluency, precision and coordination in themselves are a marvel and her interaction with Gurtu, especially as they crouched together tattooing centrestage, and – with pianist Philip Smith – produced musical conversations that to all intents and purposes sang – or danced, as her use of shakers was almost balletic in its graceful playing with the air.
The term “tuned percussion” covered everything here, even Gurtu’s bucket handle, and while I could have used more involvement from the excellent violinist Kumaresh Rajagopalan, the individual compositions within the concert’s overall framework made for an intriguing journey. At times it seemed as if Chick Corea’s Spanish fascination was being hijacked, in the nicest possible way, and transported to Mumbai. And just as she had opened the concert with offstage spoken words, Glennie closed by mirroring Gurtu’s unifying statement in reciting A Man’s A Man for A’ That with the same perfectly weighted judgement she applied across her enormous batterie of percussion.
Celtic Connections, Glasgow
02 February 2017