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Rudresh Mahanthappa


Hailed by Pitchfork as “jaw-dropping… one of the finest saxophonists going,” alto saxophonist, composer and educator Rudresh Mahanthappa is widely known as one of the premier voices in jazz of the 21st century. He has over a dozen albums to his credit, including the acclaimed Bird Calls, which topped many critics’ best-of-year lists for 2015 and was hailed by PopMatters as “complex, rhythmically vital, free in spirit while still criss-crossed with mutating structures.” His most recent release, Hero Trio, was considered to be one of the best jazz albums of 2020 by critics and fans alike.  Rudresh has been named alto saxophonist of the year for nine of the last eleven years running in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics’ Polls (2011-2013, 2015-2018, 2020-1), and for five consecutive years by the Jazz Journalists’ Association (2009-2013) and again in 2016. He won alto saxophonist of the year in the 2015-2018 & 2020 JazzTimes Magazine Critics’ Polls and was named the Village Voice’s "Best Jazz Artist" in 2015.  He has also received the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, among other honors, and is currently the Anthony H. P. Lee ’79 Director of Jazz at Princeton University.

Born in Trieste, Italy to Indian émigrés in 1971, Mahanthappa was brought up in Boulder, Colorado and gained proficiency playing everything from current pop to Dixieland. He went on to studies at North Texas, Berklee and DePaul University (as well as the Stanford Jazz Workshop) and came to settle in Chicago. Soon after moving to New York in 1997 he formed his own quartet featuring pianist Vijay Iyer. The band recorded an enduring sequence of albums, Black Water, Mother Tongue and Codebook, each highlighting Mahanthappa’s inventive methodologies and deeply personal approach to composition. He and Iyer also formed the duo Raw Materials.


Coming deeper into contact with the Carnatic music of his parents’ native southern India, Mahanthappa partnered in 2008 with fellow altoist Kadri Gopalnath and the Dakshina Ensemble for Kinsmen, garnering wide acclaim. Apti, the first outing by Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition (with Pakistani-born Rez Abbasi on guitar and Dan Weiss on tabla), saw release the same year; Agrima followed nine years later and considerably expanded the trio’s sonic ambitions.  In 2020, Rudresh released Hero Trio, an album of “covers” paying tribute to his musical heroes followed by the digital EP Animal Crossing in 2022 with the same trio.  He also co-led a project celebrating the centenary of Charlie Parker with the blessing of the Parker estate.

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Press fro Hero Trio:




Rudresh is “making truly some of the most original jazz out there at the moment." – Brian Zimmerman, Jazziz


One of “the best jazz recordings of 2020 to date…. Mahanthappa salutes the musical heroes who have shaped his art… a bracing reexamination of music by these innovators, as filtered through a bebop and post-bop lens. Mahanthappa’s ferocity of expression and technical fluidity in Parker’s ‘Red Cross’ and other works underscores just how deeply Bird has influenced him.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

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Primary Instrument

Saxophone, alto



Willing to teach

Advanced only

Charlie Parker
saxophone, alto


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Best Next Thing

Posi-Tone Records


Hero Trio

Whirlwind Recordings



Pi Recordings



Self Produced


Bird Calls

ACT Music



From: Apti
By Rudresh Mahanthappa

Enhanced Performance

From: Codebook
By Rudresh Mahanthappa



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