DIANA ROGERS: Unveiled. Artemystic; www.dianarogers.com
"ON HER DEBUT solo CD, Northern California musician Diana Rogers joins the ranks of those vocalists who expand the practice of devotional chant into a broader realm of world music. Having performed with such contemporary kirtan innovators as Krishna Das and Jai Uttal, Rogers proves to be one of the most compelling lead singers in the field.
Produced by frequent Uttal collaborator Geoffrey Gordon, Unveiled features many familiar names from kirtan and Indian fusion circles: Jai Uttal plucking the sarod-like dotar; Steve Gorn blowing bansuri (Indian flutes); Hans Christian bowing sarangi; and Gordon generating percolating beats on tabla. But Rogers and her musicians (also including multi-instrumentalist/ engineer Kit Walker and jazz violinist Charles Burnham) range beyond the Asian subcontinent for instrumental sounds. Violin, banjo, guitar, acoustic piano, electric keyboards, drums, and programmed beats introduce a smoothly integrated blend of traditional and modern Western elements into the dreamy pulsating mix on the albums eight tracks.
Repetition - both of such chant phrases as "Sri Ram," "Jai Bhagavan," and "Hare Krishna" and of musical patterns - is crucial to invoking the trance-like states of kirtan. But Rogers chants hold up as purely musical performances as well. Her slightly grainy soprano voice slides through pitches with grace and ease, bringing gorgeous intonations to every syllable. And while the pieces range from six to nine minutes in length and mostly hover in similar medium tempos, the novel arrangements create varying textures and colors from track to track.
As if to narrow the distance between the sacred and secular, Rogers includes a compelling reading of "Black Is the Color (of My True Loves Hair)," her intensely focused vocals penetrating to the core of the lyric and embodying the essential longing of this traditional love song.
-Derk Richardson,Yoga Journal-June 2001