Relix Magazine reviews In Search of Garaj Mahal

During their 11 years as a band, ending in 2011, Garaj Mahal thrilled jazz and jamband audiences alike with a blend of fleet-fingered fusion that also incorporated bits of world music and heady prog-rock (minus the pretensions). The quartet's complex, quick-shifting music was often played at breakneck tempos and spiked with virtuosic solo displays. In some respects, the group's repertoire was a natural for adaption to the big-band format, a feat handily accomplished by Cincinnati's CCM Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Scott Belck, and the smaller CCM Jazz Lab Band, with Garaj Mahal guitarist Fareed Haque guesting on all eight tracks. These pieces-all but one written by Haque or Garaj Mahal bassist Kai Eckhardt - certainly carry the sonic imprint of their old band. But the music is suitably eclectic, with "Chester the Pester" offering textures like brass choir sounds and waterfalling horns that feel cinematic, along with funky guitar fueling "The Shadow" and bluesy tones coloring "Hindi Gumbo." "Uneven Mantra" gets its kicks from 7/4 passages and rolling tabla drums, while Haque turns in one of his most impressive solos over the relaxed groove of "A Fur Peace" and volleys the lilting melody of "Whitchdoctor" with brass and reeds. These ambitious arrangements are played with great élan and intensity. - Philip Booth (From the Jan/Feb 2017 issue)