The new CD "Visions" is the second installment of Union City musician Lee Boice's World Fusion compilations. It explores "the music of India as seen through the western mind."
Boice brings his diverse background of blues, rock, pop and funk to these strong Indian classical influences. Serving as composer, guitarist and producer on this 15-track album, Boice has created a fusion of electric tribal rhythms with meditative drones, smooth jazz, and exotic vocals over ancient melodies.
"It's Pink Floyd meets Ravi Shankar," said Boice.
An eastern, western mix
The fusion of western and eastern music is not by any means a new concept, but it has been open to interpretation and has constantly changed over the years.
"Everybody has a different approach," said Boice. "I have taken my roots in rock n' roll and blues, and I use Indian Raga Scales and look at it through Western eyes."
"Visions," which was just released in June, is a followup to Boice's "Sacred Spaces," where he shared the spotlight with some of the masters of Indian classical music such as Ustad Sultan Khan, an international master, and Sarangi Badal Roy, a Tabla player with Miles Davis.
"On the first album I worked with Sultan Khan, who is the godfather of Indian classical music," said Boice. "He's the Beethoven of eastern music, and I had been listening to him for years."
Boice, who developed a love and admiration of Indian music in the late 1960s, studied the art form with classic instruments like the sitar, which is a traditional and spiritual Indian string instrument used in many ceremonies.
"It opened up a whole new world of sounds and melodies for me; it's a big mosaic," said Boice. "Those Indian Cats hear music in everything."
George Harrison also popularized the instrument in later Beatles material and introduced the fusion of Eastern music into the mainstream Western music world.
"I used to think I was George Harrison, so when he started doing Indian music, I was all over it."
It was through sheer coincidence that Boice had the good fortune to meet Ustad Sultan Khan, while learning the sitar over the last seven years. As it turned out, Khan was the uncle of Boice's teacher at the time. One day when Boice arrived for a lesson, Khan had been sleeping on the living room floor.
After observing the lesson and chiming in himself, Khan invited Boice to play with him in an Indian music festival at South Street Seaport and also invited him to participate in other sessions with some of western music's most prominent players.
"They wanted to hear some Rock n' Roll and everything I played they totally absorbed," said Boice.
Boice later invited Khan to participate in his first album "Sacred Spaces," which he was glad to do.
"He played on four or five tracks for free," said Boice. "He's such a heavy duty musician, but he had this little kid innocence about him."
According to Boice, Khan is working on an album with Carlos Santana this year.
Boice also had the pleasure of working with Sarangi Badal Roy on his first world fusion album.
"He was the percussionist for Miles Davis, and was the first Indian musician to work with jazz in the late '60s," said Boice. "He's played with everyone including Jimmy Hendrix, and he did a couple of tracks on my album."
Visions is the next phase in Boice's new adventure in World Fusion, and has brought on a new batch of talented musicians that he met through his collaborations with the greats of Indian music.
"Once you meet these outstanding people, you meet other outstanding people," said Boice. "In Indian music everyone is related by like two degrees of separation."
A professional guitarist for over 25 years, Boice has performed in various venues all over the world from New York to Amsterdam. Some of his major influences have been Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix. He has also studied Indian Classical Music at the Kalavant Center in New York City and is currently studying sitar in New York with Daisy Paradis. He works as an English teacher at Union Hill High School. Boice can be seen regularly in New York and New Jersey areas, and is the guitarist for a number of groups like the jazz/funk /fusion band Indofunk; Chukka Riddim, a popular roots rock/reggae artist based in New York City; the popular rock band the Blushing Brides; and Mark River's Rivercat Band, a New York-based rock band who has just released a second CD.
He recently played at the 39th Street Silk Building at the reception for the "Homeless Gallery" exhibit.
"I'll go from playing Rolling Stones to Reggae in a single night," said Boice, who is also working on other personal projects from his studios. "I'm always tossing around ideas for hours, and once you start doing it you're married to it."
Boice is also working with vocalist/composer Paula Jeanine on a project entitled American Ghazal, which she describes as "South Indian blues meets the American mind." For more information on Boice and upcoming shows, visit www.leeboice.com.