artist / artista

Francisco Mela - Melao


Featuring. Richie Barshay (d, pr) Daniel Blake (ts, ss), Jorge Roeder (b), special guest Herbie Hancock piano (1,2,7) & keyboard (2)
Reference. AYVA041

Homework is a stunning record coming from any artist, not to mention one only 23 years old. Joined by saxophonist Daniel Blake, bassist Jorge Roeder, percussionist Reinaldo de Jesus, sitarist Josh Feinberg, and pianist Herbie Hancock (among others), Barshay makes a statement of intent that cannot be ignored. Starting with his surprising drum set, which merges a standard western kit with Indian hand drums and percussion, Barshay extends his reach into the compositional realm, using the ancient Indian system of Bols and Tals to permeate standard arrangements. Original material (and a cover of Monk’s “Trinkle Tinkle”) is expressed through improvisation and interplay, but what appear as odd meter arrangements are really the deceptive result of Barshay’s intensive studies into the North Indian percussion language.

“I became introduced to these rhythms [while attending the New England Conservatory, where he also came under the considerable and important tutelage of Danilo Perez] and I realized that there were possibilities,” Barshay recalls. “These songs are odd meter derived pieces but they are long compositions, not just ‘let’s play a tune in five and seven.’ It was more ‘let’s take this composition that lasts for 30 seconds, and you have a bar of 4, a bar of 5, 7, there are some odd feeling meters but they are very organic. That is the Indian influence, and it is predominant on the record.”

Hard to explain, and perhaps harder to understand, it all makes sense when you listen to Homework. Driven by Barshay’s elastic drumming, which at times recalls a young Tony Williams exploding over the tabla enunciations of Zakir Hussain, the accompanying music is equally fluid and transparent. But though approaching it with ears used to western rhythm and melody is rewarding, the mysterious rhythmic churning beneath the surface is what makes Homework special.

“I wanted to follow a jazz approach with saxophone, bass, and drums,” Barshay explains, “but play tunes that were written over these long tukras, which itself means composition. So you will hear a track like ‘Peacock,’ where we say the syllables -- that is a 30 second composition. It is totally based on the Indian syllables, same thing with ‘Trinkle Tinkle,’ we put that over a tukra, a bunch of syllables, and we shaped the jazz melody over that.”


1. Clouds (Intro)
2. Homework
3. Peacock
4. Return Voyage
5. Trinkle Tinkle (Thelonious Monk)
6. Rucutucupla (Interlude)
7. Clouds
8. The Last Gasp (Daniel Blake)
9. No U Don't
10. Sim Shalom (Payer for peace - Traditional)
11. Rucutucupla
12. Exhale
13. Solo Live (bonus track)