Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
795

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Tom Greenland By

Sign in to view read count Views
Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa seems to have his fingers in quite a few pies lately: his quartet, featuring Vijay Iyer on piano, François Moutin on bass and Dan Weiss on drums, will be shortly releasing Code Book (Pi); Raw Materials, his duo with Iyer, also has an upcoming CD (Savoy); MSG, a trio with bassist Ronan Guilfoyle and drummer Chander Sardjoe will tour Europe this coming fall; the Dakshina Ensemble, an exciting East-West collaboration with South Indian classical icon Kadri Goplanath, is negotiating for a record date; Dual Identity, featuring fellow altoist Steve Lehman is actively gigging; and the Indo-Pak Coalition, with Rez Abbasi on sitar-guitar and Dan Weiss on tabla, will be at Joe's Pub this month to premiere Mahanthappa's new composition "Apti". Recently, Mahanthappa spoke about his cultural and musical roots and how these have affected his approach to composition and improvisation.

Born in Trieste, northern Italy, Mahanthappa was raised in Boulder, Colorado. His parents immigrated from Bangalore, Karnataka, smack dab in the middle of South India. Although he wasn't trained in Indian music as a child, Mahanthappa's parents often listened to bhajana, the devotional songs sung in temples and there were always a few Hindustani (North Indian classical music) records lying around the house. Interestingly, Mahanthappa only came to a greater understanding of and appreciation for Indian music after he had mastered North America's musical mother tongue: jazz. "Most of what I've learned about Indian music is something I went out of my way to seek out...Okay, so you're an Indian guy playing jazz and people constantly would ask, 'Do you know Indian music? Do you understand this music?' And I think one of the hardest things for me was to deal with that music on my own terms, because I think there was almost an expectation...Oh well, I'm brown! I must understand; I must know! [laughs] And I think the turning point was when I was at Berklee [College of Music, Boston]...I was in a group that went to play this jazz festival in India and that's when I really got with it. I went and saw some concerts that just blew my mind and heard some albums that blew my mind and I was, like, whoa, alright! And I really felt like I had my own entry point into it."

Mahanthappa had a chance to express and experiment with Indian music in a short-lived trio with Canadian percussionist Trichy Sankaran. More recently he has teamed up with Kadri Goplanath, an innovative South Indian alto saxophonist who has translated Karnatic classical music to an unconventional instrument. Mahanthappa elaborated on their collaboration: "I think he [Sankaran] was really surprised that I understood so much about Karnatic music. I wrote this stuff around him, because he doesn't know harmony, he doesn't really know form in the Western sense and so I had to write this stuff where he felt like he could just keep doing what he's doing, but there's all this shit happening around him [laughs], like some crazy forms and it's going through different keys and different meters... That was the first time that I was, like, 'Okay, I think I can deal with this. I think I'm comfortable with all this, to make this happen.'"

Live Reviews
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Interviews
Read more articles
Bird Calls
Bird Calls
ACT Music
2015
buy
Gamak
Gamak
ACT Music
2012
buy
Tasty!
Tasty!
Clean Feed Records
2011
buy
Samdhi
Samdhi
ACT Music
2011
buy
Apti
Apti
Innova Recordings
2010
buy
Apex
Apex
Pi Recordings
2010
buy
Brad Mehldau Brad Mehldau
piano
Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer
piano
David Binney David Binney
saxophone
Bennie Maupin Bennie Maupin
clarinet
Donny McCaslin Donny McCaslin
saxophone
Greg Osby Greg Osby
saxophone
Tim Berne Tim Berne
saxophone

Rudresh Mahanthappa Events

Date Event Time Tickets
Sep16Fri Rudresh Mahanthappa
The Side Door Jazz Club
Old Lyme, CT
8:30 pm
Oct13Thu Rudresh Mahanthappa
Outpost Performance Space
Albuquerque, NM
7:30 pm
Oct14Fri Rudresh Mahanthappa
Musical Instrument Museum
Phoenix, AZ
7:30 pm
Oct15Sat Rudresh Mahanthappa
Angel City Jazz Festival - Clausen Hall at Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles, CA
8:00 pm
Oct16Sun Rudresh Mahanthappa
Cafe Stritch
San Jose, CA
8:00 pm
Oct17Mon Rudresh Mahanthappa
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Santa Cruz, CA
7:00 pm
Oct18Tue Rudresh Mahanthappa
Redwood Jazz Alliance - Humboldt State University
Arcata, CA
8:00 pm

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.