Brian Ritchie and Ragani came together at Shank Hall Sunday night for a benefit-tribute concert for the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, commemorating those lost in the senseless act of violence that took place there last week.
The vibe of this well attended event was peaceful, and the audience embraced the music, seemingly uplifted by the profound spirituality they shared.
Ragani opened the show with sacred mantras of India featuring her heavenly vocals, accompanied by traditional world instrumentation. Her performance conjured the landmark 1971 The Concert for Bangladesh, yet sharing a modern New Age quality with Enya's or Sarah McLachlan's early works.
Ragani's performance had a quieting, nearly religious, ascendance. I was so transfixed by the music I lost track of my surroundings.
Next Brian Ritchie, his son Silas, John Sparrow, Dave Gelting and Michael Kashou took the stage. Ritchie's musical voice has become the wooden flute.
The music was improvised and mixed hip bebop style jazz and Ritchie's beat-boxing style on the flute.
Ritchie lead his band through an improv of the Fred McDowell and Rev. Gary Davis Mississippi blues song "You Gotta Move" (the best-known version is by the Rolling Stones). Ritchie put his own distinct imprint on this classic.
They continued by jamming on Sun Ra, completing the set with pure improvisation, fulfilling the promise of a sincere and heartfelt tribute.