Subcontinental Drift is something new for the group, however. The album was written in collaboration with sitar master Anwar Khurshid, who performed with the group last year at a concert at Kingston Road United Church. Kurshid may be best known to Western audiences for his soundtrack work on the films Life of Pi and Love Guru.
While the Sultans have performed with many guest artists in the past, as well as a full symphony orchestra on its last release, Symphony!, this marks the first time a collaborator has come on board for the full creative, writing, and recording process.
One song in particular illustrates McKhool’s vision of the universality of music. When he and Kurshid first began playing music together, they discovered they had a shared traditional tune each knew under a different name. Rakes of Mallow, an old Irish fiddle song, was known to Kurshid as Band Sargham. The tune was likely learned by Indian musicians during England’s rule over India.
Ho Jamalo features Khurshid singing in Sindhi and Waleed Abdulhamid singing in Sudanese, while A Place to Call Home and Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In the Wind bring things back to North American traditions.
Though Subcontinental Drift features more vocal tracks than most previous Sultans albums, the instrumental work remains outstanding. Alongside McKhool and Kurshid, guitarists Kevin Laliberté and Eddie Paton add to the string work, percussionist Rosendo ‘Chendy’ Leon and bassist Drew Birston keep the rhythm moving, and guest tabla player Ravi Naimpally strengthens the Eastern flavour.
Sultans of String will be holding a Toronto album launch concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30 at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor St. W. Tickets are $20 or $5 for high school students. Another Toronto concert is set for Dec. 12, when the Sultans will be joined by the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra for a Christmas concert.
Book discussions for this year’s Beaches Reads are happening for the next three weeks, ahead of a special concert to celebrate the literary work in question.
For those who read Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, discussions will take place at 7 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Beaches Branch of the Toronto Public Library; 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at the Main Street branch; and at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at the Taylor Memorial branch, 1440 Kingston Rd. at Warden Avenue.
Bohemians in Brooklyn is the related concert scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 8 at 1:30 p.m.
The show will feature CBC host, author and trombonist Tom Allen, actor, singer and pianist Bryce Kulak, harpist and singer Lori Gemmell, and singer Patricia O’Callaghan.
Bohemians in Brooklyn tells the story of McCullers, who ended up sharing a Brooklyn brownstone with poet WH Auden, musician Benjamin Britten, and burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee.
The show features original songs by Allen and Kulak, alongside music by Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill, and Colin McPhee. It will be the first show of the season in the Kingston Road Village Concert Series.
Tickets are $20 or $10 for students. The concert will take place at Kingston Road United Church, 975 Kingston Rd.
Drummer Greg Pilo continues to lead live jazz quartets weekly at the Salty Dog Bar and Grill, 1980 Queen St. E. Every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m., enjoy tunes from some of the city’s best players with no cover charge.
Tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 20, Pilo will be joined by Kelly Jefferson on saxophone, Reg Schwager on guitar, and Dave Young on bass. Next Tuesday, Oct. 27, Pilo will host Perry White on saxophone, Brian Dickenson on piano, and Neil Swainson on bass. Tuesday, Nov. 3 will see Pilo joined by saxophonist Pat Labarbera, guitarist Ted Quinlan, and bassist George Koller.
The Salty Dog will host a disco halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 31. From 9 p.m. until close, a dj will spin retro hits from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. For more information call 416-849-5064.