[ Editor's Note: The following interview is reprinted from George Colligan's blog, Jazztruth] I had only met Rudresh Mahanthappa once briefly; we played with different bands at a gig at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I was subbing with Miguel Zenon [while] he was performing with Vijay Iyer's quartet. I always found his playing to be super intense, which made me think that he might be a super intense personality. When we met years later at our first rehearsal with Jack Dejohnette, I was glad to find out that Mahanthappa is actually very down to earth, ...read more
Rudresh MahanthappaAlbright Knox Art GalleryBuffalo, NYJanuary, 27 2013It is no secret that modern jazz musicians often draw upon multiple cultures when creating their art.In saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's case, he begins by meshing traditional music from India along with influences ranging from the Middle East to the East Village, from blues, progressive rock to funk and just about anything else you might care to name.The results are stunning in their sonic diversity, striding across genres with a clearly focused intensity that astonishes and unnerves in equal measure. Gamak is a ferociously talented ...read more
Did saxophonist John Coltrane have any idea of the consequence of dipping his toes into the music of India in the 1960s? Not only did he introduce jazz to new harmonic structures, but he marshaled the forces of jazz, perhaps, to ingurgitate world music. While the repercussions of Coltrane's spiritual journey are still being felt, what of the ricochet from Indian culture?Answer: Rudresh Mahanthappa.The saxophonist (a second-generation Indian-American) speaks a form of pidgin Indo-jazz that is derived from a need to communicate across two cultures by finding a common language. Unlike Coltrane, Mahanthappa's Brooklyn/Indian accent heard ...read more
Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa continues to avoid stereotypes, whether pushing the envelope with his acoustic ensembles or including electronic colorations in 2011's Samdhi (ACT). With Gamak, his unique blend of progressive jazz and Indian music is still evolving. The added twist here is not only a reunion with the magnificent rhythm section of bassist Francois Moutin and tabla/drum guru Dan Weiss who performed on the saxophonist's Codebook (Pi, 2006), but also the addition of guitarist Dave “Fuze" Fiuczynski. whose own body of work is no stranger to the exotic. Mahanthappa's thirteenth recording is chock-full of ideas both ...read more
Paralleling the recent world-music phenomena, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa has become a champion of Indo-Jazz applications. By integrating Indian classical ragas, Mahanthappa fuses a highly progressive jazz base into his undulating and, at times, mesmeric compositions. With touches of jazz-fusion, framed on sprawling improvisational forums, the artist's global approach reaps additional rewarding factors via his signature sound, often designed with scintillating 16th note solo runs. He aligns his technical acumen with a compositional prowess that embeds variability with an assertive line of fireMahanthappa's creative force and unbridled vigor comes to the limelight during Killer." Here, the artist surges forward ...read more
About halfway through the aptly named Killer," it becomes apparent that saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's Samdhi is up to something just a little different. Amid the track's impossible changes and blistering tempo, the saxophonist's alto undergoes acoustic-electric alterations that are processed through a laptop. Not that it was ever needed, but this embracing of technology, and other influences, adds yet another dimension to his repertoire. Samdhi is the product of Mahanthappa's receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, which allowed him to explore the fusion of electronic music, ancestral Indian music and jazz. It spawned a new group with ...read more
Rudresh Mahanthappa is a man on a mission. He's driven to integrate the saxophone into a vast panorama of settings far beyond its typical range. His output is often reflective of his Indian-American heritage, with an engaging hybrid approach that merges avant-jazz and South Asian elements. His current quartet, also consisting of microtonal guitarist David Fiuczynski, bassist François Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss, is emblematic of that direction. In addition to his own band, Mahanthappa leads or co-leads several other groups that push the boundaries of jazz. For almost two decades, he's worked with pianist Vijay Iyer and ...read more
Alto saxophonists Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa are prime forces and motivators for the new jazz; artists who can boast impressive resumes as leaders, and first-call session champions that assist with surging the modern jazz element into diagonally opposed schemas. Dual Identities is a fascinating glimpse of what happens when two saxophonists merge their respective styles into dense compositional soundscapes.With countering maneuvers, off-centered metrics and scintillating aerial assaults, the quartet primes for the kill on The General." Here, the saxophonists bob, weave and impart an idiosyncratic and sizzling modus operandi atop unorthodox beats. Like whirling dervishes vying for ...read more
Apex is a cross-generational collaboration between ubiquitous 39 year-old poll-winner Rudresh Mahanthappa and undersung 75 year-old legend Bunky Green. Supported by an all-star rhythm section, the ideally paired alto saxophonists are joined by Mahanthappa's regular bassist François Moutin and stellar pianist Jason Moran, with newcomer Damion Reid and the renowned Jack DeJohnette alternating on drums. Encompassing a diverse range of material, Apex showcases the saxophonists' fervent interplay in collusion with an empathetic, highly responsive rhythm trio.A rising star, Mahanthappa's partiality for intricate structures based on mathematical and linguistic concepts has occasionally resulted in his work being labeled overly ...read more
Apex is an alto sax summit of huge proportions--a prodigious work of collaboration and stirring performances--boasting Rudresh Mahanthappa, one of today's rising stars, and Bunky Green, a lesser known master who has influenced innovators such as Greg Osby and Steve Coleman. Like another memorable 2010 release, Dual Identity (Clean Feed), which featured Mahanthappa and alto conceptualist Steve Lehman, the music here is another no-holds-barred outing between seminal artists. Though there's a 36 year age difference, Mahanthappa's fearless horn is equally matched by Green who, impressively at 75, continues to peel the paint off walls with an angular ...read more
Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak CoalitionAptiInnova2008 Anders Mogensen/Rudresh Mahanthappa/Kasper Tranberg/Jacob Anderskov/Carlo DeRosaReal PeopleBlackout2008 Over the past ten years alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa has succeeded where others have failed in fusing Indian musical traditions into modern jazz. His sinewy lines, while coursing along with the lissome grace of Indian improvisers, also reflect the harmonic edginess of players like Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean. These two discs are good demonstrations of the breadth and scope of his work. The Indo-Pak Coalition is ...read more
Recorded live at Portugal's Braga Jazz Festival in 2009 Dual Identity features two leading sax innovators--Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa--in a stunning performance. Their discographies are synonymous with the current environment of progressive jazz; music that stretches boundaries with fresh ideas in conceptualization (Lehman's spectral harmony experiments in Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings, 2009)) and broad culture awareness (Mahanthappa's unique blend of Eastern and Western music in Apti (Innova Recordings, 2009)). Their bold alto frontline is further enhanced by simpatico partners in crime: guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Damion Reid in a recording that does not ...read more
Jazz has been a well-established genre in India since the 1940s. American talent played top venues in large cities like Bombay in the '50s, and the cultures interrelated within India's natural jazz evolution from its early stages. Traditional Indian music uses single notes rather than the intricate chords typical in western jazz, so when saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa combines those inspirations the result is absorbing. Despite overtly displaying an Indian influence throughout Apti, Mahanthappa doesn't approach his music like some new world antagonist but more as an intermediary between the genres.
Mahanthappa keeps most traditional jazz sounds on the periphery on ...read more
Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa slipped onto the jazz scene right around the turn of the millennium via sideman work with pianist Vijay Iyer, on Architexture (Asian Improv Records, 1998) and the breakout Panoptic Modes (Red Giant Records, 2002). He continues to team with Iyer in an increasingly excellent evolution of sound on Reimagining (Savoy Jazz, 2005), Raw Materials (Savoy Jazz, 2006), and Tragicomic (Savoy Jazz, 2008). As a leader, Mahanthappa has recorded--with Iyer in the sideman role--Mother Tongue (Pi Recordings, 2004), and Codebook (Pi Recordings, 2006), which, while both fine CDs, don't move too far from the Iyer ...read more
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