The Teak Project
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The Teak Project

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""At last - an East-meets-West to be proud of""

Songlines - June 2008 ****

Any initial apprehension you might feel at sitting through yet another attempt at an Indo-European fusion album after so many have cack-handedly tried and failed should be dismissed. This is an eminently listenable disc. Given the pedigree of the musicians - Jonahtan Mayer and Justin Quinn are both sons of famous Indo-jazz musicians - you might expect a heavy jazz bias, yet although there is undoubtedly a jazz flavour to some of the playing it is by no means dominant. That the tracks here aren't clearly jazz ot Hindustani recital, or a conscious fusion of the two, is to their credit. My impression is that the musicians are not hung up on labels but just set out to make music, and what results is a strangely satisfying but unclassifiable melange of tala, modal harmonies, gamaka, dreamy ostinatos and virtuosic melismas. There is also much more variety here than first appears - a gentle feel but with skilful rhythmic playing. And track four starts off with an eminently classical alap. If you are looking for something a little different, but with a sound world that hints at just the right amount of Indian and European influence then this CD is definitely worth a listen.

Maria Lord - Songlines


""mesmerising""

A mesmerising modern-day incarnation of the Indo-Jazz fusion pioneered in the 60's by John Mayer. Son Jonathan Mayer, a virtuoso sitar player, joins Jusin Quinn (guitar) and Neil Craig (tabla) in a series of lovely, intricate dialogues featuring hypnotic ostinatos and expressive improvisations. Britush folk, Indian classical and jazz create a rich brew.

Chris Ingham June 2008 - Mojo


""...near-perfect...""

March 2008 ****

SECOND generation indo-jazz - sitar player Jonathan Mayer is the son of indo-jazz pioneer John Mayer - which maintains the tradition nicely.The devilish complexity of the music does nothing to detract from its sweetness and serenity. Justin Quinn is a fleet-fingered guitarist worthy to fill John McLaughlin's sandals. Tabla-player Neil Craig provides the impetus, and transforms the gentle acoustic music with the serpentine-like beats of the raga. In short, The Teak Project offers a near-perfect realisation of indo-jazz yet hints at further expansion: the floating impressionism of Outnumbered By One recalls the work of Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. Lovely stuff.

Reviewed by: Alan Brownlee,
March 2008 **** - Manchester Evening News (UK)


""An outstanding debut""

As the instrumentation will suggest, The Teak Project is an Indo-jazz project. The trio comes with credentials and pedigree. Mayer is the son of composer-violinist John Mayer and violinist Gillian Mayer and he played sitar in the reborn Indo-Jazz Fusions in the 1990’s. Quinn’s name is linked to Bakehouse and the F-ire collective, Craig’s to the Christian Garrick Quartet and Deva. The compositional load is spread evenly across the trio and they are compositions with plenty of strong ideas and filigree touches. Positioning a guitar and tabla lehara in Quinn’s ‘Without a Doubt’ is a good example of the latter - “lehara” being an accompaniment inversion in Hindustani music in which the melody instrument plays melodic figures supporting the rhythmist. ‘Leaky’ jointly credited to Quinn and Mayer, Mayer’s ‘Slow Down’ and Craig’s cutely titled ‘Yamanish’ are my favourite performances and springboard compositions. An outstanding debut.


Reviewed by: Ken Hunt,
March 2008 ****
- Jazzwise Magazine


"Live review - "...able keepers of the Indo-jazz flame...""

Though Shakti, the group fronted by British guitarist John McLaughlin in the 70s, are the most iconic exponent of Indo-jazz, the man who set the ball rolling in the previous decade was the Bombay-born, London-based violinist-composer John Mayer. He co-led an ensemble with Jamaican saxophonist Joe Harriott. The Teak Project upholds this lineage: it is a trio featuring Mayer's sitar-playing son, Jonathan, guitarist Justin Quinn - a man with McLaughlin-like potential - and tabla player Neil Craig.


This intimate basement gig is a great advert for their forthcoming eponymous CD. The players strike an artful balance between intricate scored lines and flighty improvisations, they articulate clearly without being overly clean, and, above all, their timing - such a key component of Indian-based music - is unerringly sharp. Mayer constantly sub-divides the beat, turning his solos into a blur of lightning-quick 16th notes, but does not fluff any of the tricky melodies he plays in unison with Quinn.


Each listens intently to the other. All three members contribute compositions, and there are salient references to their trailblazing predecessors. Several tunes are ragas with serpentine rhythms cycling entrancingly to Craig's precise pulse, which moves from canter to gallop. Others are spare ballads emphasising the tonal richness of the strings. Quinn's nylon guitar is feline enough to be a viola, while Mayer's wilder tremolos have a theremin-like whirr.


Yet, despite this virtuosity, the evening's highpoint is an investigation of simple song form. Quinn's untitled piece taps into understated folk-rock.


A wily, uncluttered theme shifts through deliciously mournful semi-tones to make for an emotive art-pop moment - think McLaughlin in session with John Martyn. While the Teak Project are able keepers of the Indo-jazz flame, they look set to stoke the fire in a boldly personal way.


**** Kevin Le Gendre,
February 2008 - The Guardian


"Selected Quotes"

“sweetly serene and melodic”
The Independent

“An outstanding debut”
Jazzwise

“incendiary rhythmic exchanges and lightening melodic invention. They deliver all this with fresh and exciting verve”
Time-Out

“At last – an East-meets-West to be proud of”
Songlines


“a series of lovely, intricate, dialogues featuring hypnotic ostinatos and expressive improvisations”
Mojo

“a combination of virtuoso technique, delicate understatement and absolutely sheer emotional honesty in the performance gives you The Teak Project”
BBC6 Music - Tom Robinson

“Teak unfurls a sophisticated yet earthy sound that extends the Indo-jazz legacy without cliché or complacency”
Echoes

“beautifully nuanced interplay, wonderful control of dynamics and subtle drama”
Birmingham post


“The devilish complexity of the music does nothing to detract from its sweetness and serenity”
Manchester Evening News

“…an artful balance between intricate scored lines and flighty improvisations”
The Guardian - UK Press


Discography

The Teak Project - The Teak Project FHR02. Available in all good record stores worldwide and online through IODA's network.
Live to air broadcasts on BBC Radio 6 and BBC Asian Network along with a pre-recorded broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Also primetime broadcasts in Australia on ABCFM and in Canada.

Photos

Bio

Jonathan Mayer

Son of the late composer and co-founder of Indo-Jazz Fusions, John Mayer, Jonathan began his musical training at an early age, and at 16 resolved to be a sitarist. Jonathan studied composition from his father and later with Andrew Downes at the Birmingham Conservatoire where he gained a B.Mus (Hons) studying both sitar and composition. He has played with artists such as Kumar Bose, Erich Gruenburg, Rohan De Sarem, Bombay Dub Orchestra, Sarah Brightman, and Sir Paul McCartney. Jonathan's compositions have been performed by Erich Gruenburg, Joji Hattori, and his father's band Indo-Jazz Fusions. He has toured worldwide as a soloist and in various ensembles.

"astonishingly virtuosic"
- Classic CD, UK

"exhilarating solos from Jonathan on Sitar"
- The Times, UK

Justin Quinn

Born 1978 in New York, but largely based in Britain, Justin was a winner of the 2004 BBC Jazz Award for Innovation alongside fellow members of the F-ire Collective. Justin has worked with the likes of Kenny Wollesen, Kermit Driscoll, Martin France, Gerard Presencer, Jeff Ballard, Curtis Fowlkes, Simon H. Fell and Leafcutter John. His debut album with his own group Bakehouse was named 1 Jazz Album of 2005 by MOJO magazine and described as "Convincingly jagged, serene, tranquil, provocative, reassuring and strangely beautiful all at once".

"a startlingly fresh and deeply individual talent"
- Mojo

"a rising star in Londons jazz and improvised music scene"
- Jazz Views

Neil Craig

A classically trained percussionist, Neil has performed in many musical contexts throughout his career, including orchestral, avant-garde and traditional Hindustani music. After graduating with a B.Mus from the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music in Perth, his native city, he freelanced with various orchestras and ensembles, touring North and South America, Australia and Southeast Asia. At the age of 24 he was a full-time lecturer in music in Malaysia. Also trained in Latin percussion, Neil came to London to study tabla under renowned tabla player, Pandit Sharda Sahai. Neil can be heard on The Christian Garrick Quartet's album FLY 3 and recently toured with the augmented version of this band, the Firewire Ensemble.

"formidable… tabla maestro Neil Craig beautifies"
- jazzcds.co.uk

" Australian tabla player Neil Craig adds further richness"
- Jazzwise

Tim Dickinson

Singer-songwriter, classical vocalist, and rock frontman. Tim has worked in so many different genres that he refuses to be pigeon-holed. Along side leading his own group The Silver Lining, Tim has performed with the Philharmonia Voices, Dylan Howe & The Subterraneans, The Unthanks, Charles Hazelwood, Adrian Utley (Portishead), Charlie Jones (Goldfrapp), and Jason Yarde.

“An amazing voice” Janice Long, BBC Radio 2

“a front man with a rich and dramatic voice totally at ease with a dominant role, which he pulls off with great aplomb.” Liveonstageuk