CD Reviews

With Their New Album “Hands Entwined,” Greg Hatza and Enayet Hossain Let Their Fingers Do the Talking

How often does anyone really think about their hands? They are such an indelible part of the human body, with so many functions, ranging from touching and grasping the objects of our everyday lives, to enhancing our communications via gestures, to artistic expressions that help us make sense of our world.

Hands Entwined (released September 8, 2023 on the Aimrec label and available online), the latest album by Greg Hatza (keyboards) and Enayet Hossain (tabla), is the third in a series of albums that explore the language of hands and which was initiated during the covid pandemic—a period of isolation, when human touch was a luxury we couldn’t indulge because of a deadly virus. With live performances and in-person recording sessions canceled, Hatza and Hossain found a way to keep their musical lives going, by recording the first two albums Hand-Talk (released August 1, 2021) and Talking Hands (August 1, 2022).

Greg Hatza is a renowned jazz organist from Reading, Pennsylvania, whose career was jumpstarted by fellow Reading native and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, a mentor who helped guide Hatza’s musical education and early recording work after bringing him to Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1950s. Since the late 1960s, Hatza has been a student and follower of Indian philosophy and music, both classical and what is now known as Indian Fusion Jazz, a style of jazz that combines classical Indian instrumentation (e.g., sitar and tabla) and rhythms with Western instrumentation and rhythms. 

Hatza’s mentor in Indian philosophy and music was Enayet Hossain’s father, Ustad Hamid Hossain, a Baltimore County Indian music teacher and friend. In 1980, Hatza traveled with Hamid and his then 5-year-old son Enayet to India, where he first performed Indian music on piano at the American Embassy. Enayet Hamid grew up to be a tabla player and began collaborating on Indian Fusion Jazz with Hatza. Most recently (November 10, 2023), Greg and Enayet performed at the Annapolis Jazz and Roots Festival. 

This new album, composed by Hatza, draws not only on the language of hands, with tracks such as “Hands In Unison” (track 3) and the title track “Hands Entwined” (track 8), but also on Hatza’s extensive and varied cultural and spiritual inspirations and experiences. There are only two main instruments—keyboard (piano, and on one piece, organ) and Tabla, an Indian drum, occasionally embellished by flute and bass. But the interplay between these two percussive instruments on 13 tracks, with driving, pulsating rhythms throughout, conveys a wide range of moods, places, and spirits. 

Cultural and geographic inspirations are featured in several pieces. Track 1, “Echoes of Spain,” is inspired by the 1939 classical composition “Concierto de Aranjuez” by Joaquin Rodrigo, about Aranjuez, the summer palace of King Ferdinand II, known for its beautiful gardens, and by Chick Corea’s 1971 “Concierto”-based jazz composition “Spain.”  The melody of this piece is one of the most recognizable in all of music; even if you know nothing about Rodrigo’s composition, it has been a widely played, embellished, and “sampled” score. “Santorini Dreams” (track 5) is an ode to Hatza’s heritage, inspired by the Santorini islands and the Mediterranean rhythms of Greece. As Hatza explains, “it weaves the traditional Greek dance form, Kalamatiano, into its rhythmic core with a distinctive 7-beat pattern.” “Mumbai Memoirs” (track 9)  evokes Hatza’s and Hossain’s memories of the street life of Mumbai, India, with a bluesy, funky vibe, reminiscent of the Classics IV’s 1967 song “Spooky.” 

The language of love, physical, emotional, and spiritual, is another theme explored on the album. “Secretive Glimpses” (track 2) is a dreamy, romantic love song to curl up to. Track 4, “One World, Many Hearts,” an upbeat, hopeful, relatable anthem of universal love. It has a catchy musical “hook” that expresses the song title, and I can imagine someone singing that one line to further enhance the message. Track 7, “Dreaming,” is a melodic song with an underlying waltz-like beat, but a surprising overtone of other rhythms (drums and piano runs). The title song, “Hands Entwined,” with its Eastern scale and tantalizing rhythms, is a magical and mysterious evocation of those goosebumps experienced by lovers everywhere. The final track, “Memories Unforgotten,” is romantic and memorable, with a bossa nova rhythm and a Lou Rawls (“You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”) vibe.

The third theme is the power of rhythm, the signature of Indian Jazz Fusion, merging the exotic rhythms of classical Indian music provided by the tabla and sitar with Western jazz idioms. “Hands in Unison” (track 3) is the only track on which Hatza plays organ, his primary instrument throughout his 60-year career as a jazz musician. This song is a stellar example of using distinctly different percussive instruments to engage the listener in a musical conversation between Eastern and Western cultures. In a  rhythmic and melodic call-and-response between the tabla and organ, Hatza and Hossain display the universal power of music to transcend cultural differences. 

Track 6, “Hypnotic Beats,” takes this theme a step further, in a more experimental way. In a mix of sitar, electric guitar riffs, and violin—all played by Hatza on keyboard—and accented by Hatza playing flute, a magical fusion of rock, blues, and Eastern modes is created. “Mind Games” (track 10) is also an experimental piece, with a Moog synthesizer-like sequence and a guitar-like keyboard solo, that adds excitement to the song. The longest song on the album (9 minutes and 1 second) is “Rhythms of Unity” (track 11). Like “Hypnotic Beats,” it explores the hypnotic power of rhythm, centered on a folk tune repeatedly played, using an accordion-like sound on the keyboard. The penultimate song, “Keys of Passion” (track 12) is the musical counterpoint to “Rhythms of Unity.”

You can learn more about Greg Hatza and this album at

Whether  you’re new to Indian Jazz Fusion or a seasoned listener, Hands Entwined is a wonderful introduction. And if you just enjoy feel-good jazz, this album is a keeper!

–by Jackie Oldham

Jackie Oldham is a Baltimore native who writes essays, poetry, memoirs, and short stories on many topics in her blog, She has done readings at various Baltimore venues and on radio shows. Her essays have appeared as editorials and letters in the Baltimore Sun. She retired from a career as a copy editor, trainer, and team leader for the former Waverly Press and its successors. She is also a musician who loves all kinds of music, including jazz. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *