Having revived his Indian jazz fusion group Shakti some twenty years after their first incarnation split, John McLaughlin and the updated Remember Shakti garnered huge numbers of plaudits for their live shows and the albums pulled from these. High on this success the group then headed to Bombay at the tail-end of 2000 for a celebratory performance bolstered by special guests Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Taufiq Qureshi and most notably vocalist Shankar Mahadevan.
Dubbed 'Saturday Night In Bombay', it's a playful take on his earlier much-loved 1980 collaboration with Al di Meola and Paco de Lucia 'Friday Night In San Francisco', but that isn't the only similarity here. Both records benefit from a warm and relaxed friendly vibe, with all of the men on stage clearly good friends and enjoying each others company and their music.
The short opener 'Luki' is a nicely spiritual piece that benefits greatly from Mahadevan's wondrous vocal performance, but the real meat here comes in the following 'Shringar'. A half-hour piece, its near total length is dominated by a hypnotic interaction between the guitar and santur. Simply incredible, it's one of the very best things that the group, and McLaughlin, have ever created.
'Giriraj Sudha' is an uplifting and bright number that unfortunately is over all too soon, while the following and closing 'Hussain' begins with a level of unrestrained high energy that only builds and builds, taking in high emotion and then ending on a spectacular high.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the previous Shakti and Remember Shakti albums, the new guests and instrumentation are a very welcome bonus, and again progress the sound, but the overall feel of the set is perhaps just a touch more sad, even mournful, than the others. And based on that this probably shouldn't be your first purchase of this great group, that honour still falls to the bands debut, but it is a good one and well-worth the investment of your listening time.