Shankar and Gingger – ‘One In A Million’ A DVD-Audio review by Chris Briscoe

If the word globalization brings to mind Hollywood schlock films and bad hamburgers, check out Shankar & Gingger’s One In A Million. It’s a melding of World rhythm and danceable Western pop structure accented by a rich Eastern musical heritage.

Lakshminarayana Shankar, was born April 26, 1950 in Madras, India. After training under his father, V. Lakshminarayana, a professional violinist and vocalist, Shankar was quickly recognized as a prodigy and toured with some of India’s finest musicians. After moving to the United States in 1969, he joined John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and later was a founding member of Shakti. Shankar has since built an impressive body of solo and cooperative works including a veritable Who’s Who of collaborators from Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel and Eric Clapton to Elton John, Yoko Ono and Sting.

Gingger, born in Los Angeles, was schooled by her mother, who is also a professional singer. She is a talented vocalist as well as an accomplished violinist. Shankar & Gingger have been performing together for over six years. They are unique in that they are the only two double violinists in existence. The double violin, Shankar’s own invention, has two necks and the range of a double bass, cello, viola and violin in one instrument.

The session players chosen for One In A Million are well known and immensely talented. Guy Allison, who provides keyboard programming, guitars, and drums, is now touring with the latest incarnation of The Doobie Brothers. Mike and Steve Porcaro, once of Toto, are still among the slickest session players around. Tony Levin (sorry no stick on this one) brings his unique melodic style to the bass and Phil Collins even pops in for a cameo.

One In A Million was conceived as a multichannel DVD-Audio project from the start and, as such, gives a recording engineer much more flexibility than one saddled with the chore of remixing a two channel recording. The 5.1 mix is by Gary Lux at, you guessed it, 5.1 Studios in Los Angeles, Ca. The sonics have an airy texture well-suited to the theme of the production; lots of programmed keyboards layered over solidly moving rhythms. Extra features include artist bios, Shankar & Gingger’s commentary as well as a photo gallery.

The tone of One In A Million is unflaggingly upbeat and positive throughout, but the songwriting is simplistic, with an off the cuff feel. For example:

I’ve been waiting so long
It’s our time right now
Baby, won’t you come by my house tonight
I’ll make it worth your while

This pedestrian appeal is delivered by incredibly talented vocalists and so is rescued from complete failure, but results only in a shallow expression of deep emotion. Gingger addresses her philosophy in regards to the hierarchy of vocalizing and songwriting in the documentary.

In all, this is a good effort to bring bright positive pop music to the DVD-Audio arena. If you like your World music and dance motifs in one package, One In A Million will be a good choice.