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Deepak Ram

On his latest disc, South African-born jazz musician Deepak Ram presents us with a solid album and a sonic challenge. How can one adapt "Giant Steps," one of John Coltrane's best-known compositions, to the bansuri (a wooden Indian flute)? The answer is: by giving some tunes a Brazilian bossa-nova structure, letting guitarist Vic Juri stretch out, and blessing these pieces with a relaxed, easygoing feel. There are surprises on the disc, such as the subtle take on Miles Davis' "All Blues," played here with a backing of both electric bass and guitar. On this tune, Ram takes on all of the late trumpeter's complexities without an ounce of pretension, sounding perfectly comfortable in it as he makes the composition his own. He does the same with Gershwin's classic "Summertime," where he takes a more traditional approach at first and then goes on to improvise more freely throughout the melody; bassist Tony Marino also showcases his chops, delivering an accomplished solo halfway through the track. Throughout Steps Ram shows that in fact there are no limits when it comes to playing jazz — any instrument works as long as you have the courage, will, and of course the talent to make it happen, no matter what the intricacies at hand might be.

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