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Charu Suri: Ragas & Waltzes


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Charu Suri: Ragas & Waltzes
Pianist Charu Suri's father was a CEO of a record label. Suri was born in India, and has lived in four continents. Her father's profession meant that slews of records were available for her young musical ears. Her piano training was initially classical. Then, as so often happens, jazz stepped in, took a chair, and slid his pork pie hat across the table at her and smiled. This jazz encounter came about in 2018; Suri was no longer listening to her father's ragas on the radio, and no longer sitting with him listening to the waltzes of Johann Strauss.

What Charu Suri did at the beginning of her jazz journey with Book Of Ragas (Amala Music, 2019) and Book Of Ragas Volume II (Amala Music, 2022) was a blending of India's raga tradition with American jazz. What she does with her fourth album release, Ragas & Waltzes, is to tip her pork pie hat to her father, with a lovely exploration of European and Indian musical traditions.

The disc opens with a one-two-three combination of waltzes—"Vienna Waltz," "Verona Waltz" and "Waltz For My Father." These are all Suri originals, with which she creates a mood that is a mix, tune-by-tune, of longing and solemnity, then of a lilting and uplifting beauty, segueing into tender reverence that shifts gear into a segment of lively swing before drifting back to loving respect. And that swing is surely inspired by New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band's drummer, Joe Lastie, Jr., sitting in the recording session's drummer's chair. "Floating (Raga Kalyani)" is a timeless sound which gets a understated injection of thougtful and experimental modernism. "Farewell Waltz" bids a loving adieu to Suri's father, who passed in late-2021. A gorgeous and sad tune—Suri's touch is perfection here—which gives a sense of acceptance of the grief, while Philip Vaiman's violin sounds heaven-sent.

Track Listing

Vienna Waltz; Verona Waltz; Waltz For My Father; Floating (Raga Kalyani); Nature (Raga Hemant); Farewell Waltz.


Charu Suri: piano; Joe Lastie, Jr.: drums; Justin Lee: bass; Philip Vaiman: violin; Denise Fink: harp; AI Jewer: flute.

Album information

Title: Ragas & Waltzes | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Amala Records

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