sign up for our newsletter
Home   Shopping Cart   Contact Details   Sound Details
wholesale login
 On Sale
  contact us
wholesale terms
catalog request
reseller request
how to play music
privacy policy
Join our email list

benjy wertheimer and michael mandrell : Product Reviews

Sheer Delight
Meant to accompany yoga (per the liner notes), Anjali is a soulful and beautiful collection of East Indian fusion music, featuring the talents of acoustic guitarist Michael Mandrell (on 6 and 12 string versions of the instrument) and multi-instrumentalist Benjy Wertheimer (playing tabla, esraj, tamboura, keyboards, and other percussion). 

This is sublime music, ideal for either coloring the environment in an unostentatious manner or for drinking in as one would a fragrant scent on the air.  Mandrell plays with the proper restraint, regardless of tempo, so that the guitar never overpowers the gentle grace of the music.  Wertheimer is, of course, a superb percussionist, and he displays his skills throughout the recording on not just tabla/hand drums, but also the esraj (a stringed sitar-like instrument that is played with a bow).  

Sometimes, the music takes on a "golden age of Windham Hill" sound, such as on Priya (Beloved) which opens with a long stretch of solo guitar by Mandrell, and eventually becomes a guitar/esraj duet. Satya (Truthfulness), the next track, ratchets up the tempo to a relaxed yet lively pace, featuring shakers, hand drums (later in the cut) and Wertheimer's esraj alongside Mandrell's adroit picking and strumming.  Once again, I was put in mind of great acoustic instrumental albums from the mid to late '80s - the music back then had a gentility of spirit and a subtle way of expressing beauty with minimal "glitz" that Anjali displays throughout its ten selections.
Don't think this album is a snoozefest just because of my use of "subdued."  The two principal artists each have ample opportunity to showcase their respective talents.  Surya Namaskar features opening snaky tabla rhythms and seductive esraj but soon involves some semi-jazzy guitar which dances lightly and playfully above the bowed instrument, flitting over the underlying drone of the tamboura.  The track is about nine-minutes long and is a highlight of this fine album.
The Breath Inside the Breath paints a beautiful yet somewhat sad picture with its delicate guitar and mournful esraj.  Chandrika (Moonlight) is a graceful improvisatory-feel piece where the guitar goes it solo with the tamboura.  The track is another highlight and showcases that Mandrell's control of nuance.  

The album ends with the eight-and-a-half minute Santosa, yet another strong number.  Opening with the twinkling of bells, the mystical sound of the esraj, and drones from the tamboura, this is also one the more "traditional" East Indian tracks on the CD, even when the acoustic guitar gingerly enters the picture.  A contemplative tone is maintained for the duration of the song - no beats or rhythms intrude, just the sultry sigh of the esraj, the gentle notes plucked on the guitar, and the steadying influence of the tamboura.  

Coming after the explosive fire of Wertheimer's Circle of Fire, Anjali is a great change of pace, and also a sheer delight in and of itself.  Where Circle of Fire incited you to get up and dance, Anjali extends a sincere invitation to sit and just "be."  With music like this as accompaniment, "being" is more than enough for a rewarding experience.  Highly recommended.  

- Bill Binkelman, Wind & Wire



Home Shopping Cart Search Site Contact Details Sound Details Up

©2019 Whiteswanmusic | Web Application by Airbubble Industries | Web Design by Computer Conscious