Saxophonist Aakash Mittal has studied music in India over the past few years, and at one point, the other members of his quartet joined him for a two-week residency in Calcutta, where they wrote the six songs on Thumbs Up. The EP opens with Matt Fuller playing the meditative solo guitar piece "Sunrise," which leads into the title track. Mittal's fiery playing on the frenetically paced tune echoes that of his hero, Rudresh Mahanthappa, as does the solo alto-sax piece "Third Eye." As its title suggests, "The Calm Within the People" is a gorgeous ballad featuring some fine flute work by Mittal. While Thumbs Up (the title was borrowed from an Indian cola that is an imitation of Coke) might have been written in India, some of the tracks here seem a bit more rooted in progressive jazz than in traditional Indian music, especially "Density" and "Thumbs Down."
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