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 recordedwith Iyer in the sideman roleMother Tongue (Pi Recordings, 2004), and Codebook (Pi Recordings, 2006), which, while both fine CDs, don't move too far from the Iyer influence. That changed with Kinsmen (Pi Recordings, 2008), a breakout set that had the American-born saxophonist joining forces with India saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and the Dashina Ensemble for an exploration of Mahanthappa's heritage, and a marriage of the Southern India's classical music with the ebullience and improvisatory élan of American jazz. It's a record that found its way onto many year-end top ten lists and garnered a great deal of deservedly laudatory press.
Apti by Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition takes the same roots-exploring, marrying-of-Sub-Continent-with-American-forms path as Kinsmen, paring the sound down to saxophone, guitar and tabla. While the disc hasn't garnered the same amount of attention as did Kinsmentoo close, perhaps, on its predecessor's heels; a different record label; or a second shot across the bow is not as ear-grabbing as the firstit is every bit as enthralling.
Mahanthappa's trio mates are a well chosen pair. Pakistani-American Rez Abbasi makes the electric guitar sound hypnotically Eastern, with drone-like components and drifting, mystical single note forays that writhe in and out and around Manhanthappa's often rapid-fire notes. Dan Weiss' tabla playing seals the dealsharp, popping Indian percussion that tightly punctuates the trio's sound.
Mahanthappa's horn sound is one of the more recognizable in jazz. On his work with Iyer, and on Codebook and Mother Tongue, it had a stinging-insect-trapped-under-a-glass intensity, full of joyfully furious, devil-may-care forward momentum. That's still there on Apti, mixed in with interludes where that glass has been lifted, taking the sax sound into wide opens spaces and expansive skies, soaring with his Indo-Pak Coalition.
Looking Out, Looking In; Apti; Vandanaa Trayee; Adana; Palika Market; IIT; Baladhi; You Talk Too Much.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.