The next album from bass guitarist Shez Raja will be released in the latter part of March 2021, his new label has announced, titled Tales of the Punjab. Raja’s attractive and highly accessible virtuosic fusion sound is built from the ground up out of 1970s-style Mahavishnu-like fusion and much else. Raja, who hails from the Wirral, Merseyside, was live in Soho four years ago at the Pizza Express Jazz Club when Soweto Kinch and John Etheridge were gigging with the English-Asian player around the time of the release of Gurutopia the last time marlbank heard him on which he was joined by jazz-rock fusion giants Mike Stern and Randy Brecker who had guested with this most scintillating improviser on the record.
Signed to Ubuntu who quote him regarding his first album for the label he explains background to Tales of the Punjab: “In early 2020 I went on an adventure, travelling around the Punjab to explore my South Asian identity and immerse myself in the musical culture of my roots. Little did I know, the world was about to change and I feel very lucky to have had what was to be a magical and truly enlightening experience. Whilst in the vibrant city of Lahore I was honoured to collaborate with some of the most accomplished musicians of the subcontinent, from young virtuosos to veteran classical musicians. For several days we shared a musical and spiritual journey together through ancient ragas, traditional melodies and free improvisations, creating a bridge between cultures with beautiful, exotic and timeless sounds.” Shez Raja, top, photo: shezraja.com; and with John Etheridge (above left) and Soweto Kinch. Photo: marlbank