Though credited as a cross-cultural duo project by Indian sarod master Amjad Ali Khan and Chinese pipa legend Wu Man, the provocatively titled five track album Music For Hope is actually more of a fanciful family and ensemble affair, with Khan’s sons Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash playing sarod on the first two pieces and Shane Shanahan – who along with Wu Man, is a founding member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad project – contributing his dynamic percussion expertise and invention to the colorful, hypnotic fusion of exotic sounds.
The broader purpose of the project is to reflect and support the AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) movement and raise awareness of its struggle, serving as a sometimes meditational, often polyrhythmic soundtrack to the contemplation of the hope for restoration of harmony (between India, China and other countries and cultures) amid the discord created by discrimination, victimization and violence. From the soothing, drone backed dual sarod and pipa improvisation “Stream of Love” through the plucky, high energy sarod/pipa/percussion jam “Of Tradition and Heritage” by Khan, Wu Man and Shanahan, these anthems of rich melodic and harmonic expression can certainly be appreciated apart from the sociopolitical context which inspired them.
At heart, on a purely musical it’s a soulful, relaxing and deeply spiritual project featuring classic stringed instruments whose sound epitomize the music of India and China. For listeners who want to go deeper and get a better understand the intricacies of the movements of these compositions, the scales, the sharps and flats and the different Ragas the artists use as foundations, Neil Sorrell’s compelling liner notes will provide excellent illumination.