Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Arun Ramamurthy Trio: Jazz Carnatica

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
On his 1967 hit song "Monterey," Eric Burdon, of Eric Burdon and the Animals, sang that Ravi Shankar's music made him cry. This was part of a litany of observational praises of the artists who performed at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival: The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, the Birds, The Jefferson Airplane. And from India, Ravi Shankar, an odd and foreign name dropped in with the big time rock stars of the day.

By 1967, Beatles fans were aware of guitarist George Harrison's fascination with Indian music, and his mentor-ship under the Indian sitarist Shankar. In fact, a sitar sound introduced The Beatles 1965 hit, "Norwegian Wood," and Harrison himself had, by the late sixties, experimented with the Indian music forms on "Within Without You" from Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol Records, 1967) and on "Inner Light," the B side to the group's 1969 hit "Lady Madonna."

The jazz world, known for celebrating an array of World Music styles, has been slow on the Indian music uptake until quite recently, with a groundswell of Subcontinent sounds from the likes of saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa on Mother Tongue (Pi Recordings, 2004) and Kinsmen (Pi Recordings, 2008), and the group Karavika's gorgeously adventurous Sunrise (Self Produced, 2011).

And now there's the Arun Ramamurthy Trio, and Jazz Carnatica.

Violinist Ramamurthy and his trio—and some well-chosen guests—celebrate with a deep reverence, an unfettered joy and a palpable spiritual verve the Carnatic Music that originated and evolved in South India. The Brooklyn-based Ramamurthy, the son of Indian immigrants, trained in the tradition of Indian Classical music, has set his life's path on the sharing of Carnatic music and his own individualistic take on blending the classic Indian sounds with other genres.

Jazz Carnatica opens with "Dhansari," a tune more than a century old. It is a vibrant and dynamic sound. The trio—with Perry Wortman on bass and Sameer Gupta on drums—create an uncluttered atmosphere that feels at once modern and ancient, soothing and invigorating, cerebral in the most approachable of ways. "Maha G," has sweet, sinewy violin lines slipping over the low hum of a drone, before a shift into the strings riding over a heartbeat of a bass groove.

Pianist Marc Cary joins the trio on "4th Dimension" and "Simple Joys." The keyboardist's use of Access Virus 12 (a synthesizer) opens the former tune with a modern tinge—an eerie neon electric audio glow over Wortman's bass notes—and shifts into a near rock groove, a 21st century raga (of sorts) with sparkling, hard-driving piano and Ramamurthy's animated violin lines.

"Darbari Kanada," an ensemble improvisation with the trio, plus violinist Trina Basu and, again, Cary on piano and synthesizer—leads into "Govardhana" for the most purely beautiful eleven-plus minutes of the set, a profound soundscape with strings floating in and out of a translucent synthesizer wash, sounding a like a circuitous search for God.

Ramamurthy includes two of original compositions, "Delusions" and "Conception." The former features guest Akshay Anantapadmanabhan on mridangam. It begins deep in the East with a mesmerizing drone laid out like a painter's canvas for Ramamurthy's searching violin solo before the tune shifts into a Carnatic percussion groove. "Conception" features bassist Wortman and violinist Ramamurthy in the forefront of a shuffle and pop percolation from Gupta.

Jazz Carnatica by the Arun Ramamurthy Trio is a beautiful, exotic, ear-opening listening experience. The group and the leader, with a little help from their friends, sound like part of the early stages of the push to popularize an overlooked (in the United States) segment of the World Music sound, a music so beautiful it can make you cry.

Track Listing: Dhanasri; Maha G; 4th Dimension; Simple Joys; Darbari Kanada; Govardhana; Delusions; Conception; Revati.

Personnel: Arun Ramamurthy: violin; Perry Wortman: bass; Sameer Gupta: drums; Marc Cary: piano (3, 4, 5, 6); Trina Basu: violin (5, 6); Akshay Anantapadmanabhan: mridangam (7).

Title: Jazz Carnatica | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "With You In Mind" CD/LP/Track Review With You In Mind
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "Sanctified" CD/LP/Track Review Sanctified
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Earthshine" CD/LP/Track Review Earthshine
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 28, 2017
Read "Alom Mola" CD/LP/Track Review Alom Mola
by John Eyles
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Road to Forever" CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Acknowledgement" CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!