Arun Ghosh At The Camden Forge

Good Ghosh.

That’s all you really need to know about Arun Ghosh and his indo jazz quintet.

And whilst the economy of one sentence reviews has appealed to my writing mind on more than one occasion, this incredible music I stumbled upon last week is deserving of so much more.

Playing at The Forge in Camden, an intimate venue in the heart of London Town’s spiritual home for live music, Arun Ghosh took to the stage with his travelling band of musicians on time and in sandals.

Unfortunately, I managed neither; one of the inevitable consequences of inviting a princess with South Italian blood to accompany me on my musical adventure.

Of course, I only have myself to blame for my choice of footwear.

As Arun Ghosh and his band begin their opening number, I wait at the bar while a sympathetic barman who doesn’t really comprehend what he’s gotten himself into indulges my Sicilian date.

By the time a third bottle of red wine is opened for us to sample, he begins to understand her search for one as sweet as her may have defeated Hercules.

Who else but a princess would want a wine renowned for its body to taste sweet?

And if I wasn’t so keen on sampling hers later on, I’d have probably left the girl to her own devices.

Finally, with strawberry daiquiris in hand, we snake our way through the crowd to watch the rest of the show.

With tables downstairs and a galleria overlooking the stage above, The Forge is a grown up live music experience that’s more reminiscent of a theatre than most of the grimy stages dotted throughout Camden’s glut of pubs and bars that double as music venues.

Intriguingly for someone more familiar to gigs with mosh rather than mash, you can even have dinner brought to you whilst watching a concert here; something I plan to taste in the very near future.

For those not familiar with Arun Ghosh, which included me til about 24 hours before this gig, he is a clarinettist and composer who fuses contemporary jazz with the traditional rhythm’s of South Asian music.

My only previous association with jazz woodwind had come through the legend that is Ron Burgundy, but the only thing Ghosh has in common with Will Ferrell is they both appear to have been touched by genius.

Conceived in Calcutta and born in Bolton, Ghosh’s multi-cultural background provides the inspiration behind much of the music he creates.

Straddling two disparate worlds, Ghosh and his assortment of travelling musician’s that tonight include two saxophonists, double bassist and drummer, have created something original by merging the musical influences of these two cultures.

The energy of an Arun Ghosh live show is something to behold, with songs building up from the hypnotic loops provided by the rhythm section before clarinet and saxophone add vibrant colours to this musical canvas.

Ghosh bounces up and down on stage, seemingly engaged in duel with some imaginary foe as he thrusts and cuts with his clarinet. He and his band mix the fire of tempestuous numbers such as “Caliban’s Revenge” and “Aurora”, with mellower sounds of “Come Closer” and “Uterine”.

When not holding his audience in thrall to the spell his music casts, Ghosh charms them with some affable stage chat in between songs; digging a bromance sized hole for himself in one segue when carried away by the love he has for his band.

The set list for tonight comprised of material from his debut album, Northern Namaste and his as yet untitled and unfinished second album scheduled for release this autumn.

While the studio recordings I’ve heard can’t match the intensity and passion Arun Ghosh and his band exhibit in their live performances, they’re definitely worth investing in.

To paraphrase a much greater legend than I, Arun Ghosh is kind of a big deal.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2011