Slide To Freedom 20,000 Miles

Is this an ambitious attempt at cultural crosspollination or a confusing stylistic hodgepodge? Actually, it's a little of both. Slide to Freedom were formed by acclaimed Canadian multi-instrumentalist Doug Cox and classical Indian music virtuoso Salil Bhatt, and includes percussionist Cassius Khan, sacred steel pioneer Calvin Cooke, members of gospel ensemble the Campbell Brothers and Austin, TX-based singer-songwriter BettySoo, who shines on "Still Small Voice." The songs range from classical Indian pieces to gospel to folk to country to covers of pop classic "Spooky" (an album highlight), Hank Williams' powerful "Angel of Death" and Chuck Berry's "Wee Wee Hours." The crisp, fluent guitar playing of Cox and Bhatt (on satvik veena) is delightful, and there's no denying the instrumental prowess of the guests. There's a warm sense of spontaneity in these collaborations that, for the most part, overcomes the project's excessive eclecticism. (Northern Blues)