Rudresh Mahanthappa

Few musicians share the ability of saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. Time and again, Mahanthappa has eloquently displayed the capacity to absorb numerous styles and genres of music, combine them with the language of modern jazz, and emerge with a new form still recognizably jazz. What has materialized is a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American. Just as his personal experience is never wholly lived on one side of the hyphenate or the other, his music speaks in a voice dedicated to forging a new path forward. The manifestations of that trajectory include the latest version of his quartet setting, currently named Gamak, and now featuring guitarist David “Fuze” Fiuczynski, whose own microtonal vocabulary has opened new possibilities for Mahanthappa’s compositional imagination; and Samdhi, a multi-cultural ensemble that advances Mahanthappa’s blend of jazz and Indian music with modernist electronic music. Samdhi’s self-titled debut, released in 2010 by ACT Music + Vision, was hailed by JazzTimes as “a landmark convergence of styles that didn't lend itself to easy analysis… new music of this caliber hasn't been attempted before.” Gamak, which includes bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss, will issue its first release in January 2013 as the band begins an extended period of live performances. Mahanthappa continues to partner with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and innovative percussionist Dan Weiss in the Indo-Pak Coalition. Other recent projects run the gamut from the cross-generational alto summit Apex featuring Bunky Green; trios MSG and Mauger; the quintet Dual Identity co-led with fellow altoist Steve Lehman; and Raw Materials, his long-running duo project with pianist Vijay Iyer. Despite the vast variety of influences on display throughout these disparate projects, one constant is the voice that the New York Times has hailed as possessing “a roving intellect and a bladelike articulation.” Giants in both jazz and South Indian music have recognized his success. Most recently, Mahanthappa was asked to join the working group of legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette, while a collaboration with the renowned Carnatic saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath resulted in Mahanthappa’s critically-acclaimed 2008 CD Kinsmen (Pi). He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and commissions from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, Chamber Music America and the American Composers Forum. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year in Downbeat’s 2011 & 2012 International Critics Polls and for four years running by the Jazz Journalists’ Association (2009-2012). These impressive accolades, as well as critical praise from such influential outlets as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice and the New Yorker, spotlight Mahanthappa’s expanding role as a pioneer in the contemporary jazz world. His early years growing up in Colorado, his studies at Berklee College of Music and DePaul University, and his staggering wealth of experiences playing alongside elders and contemporary masters from a number of musical disciplines, are all refracted into his stunning and still-evolving body of work. Mahanthappa is a Yamaha artist and uses Vandoren reeds exclusively.

Canadian Festival Tour and DC Jazz Festival

HI Folks,

It looks like Summer has finally arrived and with it an exciting music festival season.

I'm very excited to be taking Gamak (Rez Abbasi, Rich Brown and Dan Weiss) to Canada to perform at 7 jazz festivals across the country. We'll be in:

June 21 - Edmonton

June 22 - Vancouver

June 23 - Victoria

June 24 - Saskatoon

June 25 - Toronto

June 26 - Ottawa

June 27 - Montreal

Just click the city to find out more information.

After that run, we'll be at the DC Jazz Fest on June 29 in a double bill with Etienne Charles. More info here.

In other news . . .

The premiere performances of "I Will Not Apologize for My Tone Tonight" for PRISM Saxophone Quartet were a great success.

Look for an album out this Fall and please enjoy this video for now:

The premiere shows of Song of the Jasmine with Ragamala Dance at Walker Art Center were overwhelmingly amazing. I don't have any video to share yet but we'll be at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in August.

My album Apex with Bunky Green was voted one of the Top 50 Essential Alto Albums of all time by an esteemed cast of fellow alto saxophonists in this month's JazzTimes.

Lastly, Gamak won International Ensemble of the Year at the ECHO Jazz Awards, Germany's Grammys. I wasn't able to attend the ceremony on May 24, but I sent this acceptance speech video. The main reason I'm including it here is that my son Talin is so cute!

Thanks for reading! Enjoy your Summer!

Best Wishes,