Gamak, coming from the South Indian term for melodic ornamentation gamaka, signifies universal sense of how one can approach melody as both composer and improviser. The music put forth incorporates Western forms of jazz, progressive rock, heavy metal, country, American folk, go-go, and ambient while simultaneously engaging the rich traditions of Indian, Chinese, African, and Indonesian music. The end result is music that defies category, music that very much fits with the times in which we live.
Rudresh has regrouped with longtime partners and friends François Moutin and Dan Weiss with whom he has not recorded since the 2006 release codebook. As fellow members of Jack DeJohnette’s band, he’s been privileged to develop a wonderful musical relationship with the ever-inventive David Fiuczynski. Most of this music was written with him in mind and he breathes new life into the sound of Rudresh’s new quartet.
In Sanskrit, Samdhi means "that which combines or unites" or "the interval between day and night." In more traiditonal Hindu terms, it refers to the period between the end of one age (or yuga) and the dawn of another. For Rudresh this project represents a new direction in combing the complex melodic and rhythmic elements of both Carnatic (South Indian) music and the traditions of jazz within an electro-acoustic format consisting of alto saxophone with electronics, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums. A direct result, of his research as a Guggenheim fellow, this new work will deeply engage the listener while breaking new ground in the multicultural landscape of modern music.
Combining elements of traditional Indian harmonies and rhythms with unhinged jazz improvisation, electronics and occasional drum 'n' bass grooves, the nearly 90-minute piece was a landmark convergence of styles that didn't lend itself to easy analysis. That's due, in large part, to the fact that new music of this caliber hasn't been attempted before.– Jazz Times link
Samdhi, in its debut live performance, proved that there is an almost spell-like power lent to jazz when profoundly creative musicians choose to apply an ancient modal and rhythmic grammar to their abilities. As though, by repeating and reworking these musical phrases, Mahanthappa & Co. were able to conjure something both ancient and futuristic; a musical golem, assembled from the air by the nonverbal speaking of a Sanskrit word: Samdhi.– Pittsburgh Festival of Firsts link
The way [Steve Coleman] dealt with West African drummers and integrating it conceptually into [his band] Five Elements, definitely served as an inspiration for the way I want to deal with Indian music," Mahanthappa says. "[I want to] recontextualize it and create some sort of hybrid.– Pittsburgh City Paper link
Apex with Bunky Greenbuy Apex
Apex is a blazing collaboration between alto saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green that puts on display a fifty-year continuum of state-of-the-art saxophone playing. Featuring the all-star band of Jason Moran on piano, François Moutin on bass and switching off on drums, the dynamic Damion Reid and the legendary Jack DeJohnette, Apex shines a much-deserved spotlight on Bunky Green, a hugely influential but under-recognized original in jazz. One can immediately see why Mahanthappa was drawn to Green's playing: The two share a similar biting tone, harmonic sophistication, a well-articulated rapid fire attack, and a certain rhythmic elasticity.
Apex is an alto sax summit of huge proportions—a prodigious work of collaboration and stirring performances…one of the most enjoyable recordings of 2010.– Mark F. Turner, AllAboutJazz.com link
…much of this vigorous set is full-on, restlessly rhythm-shuffling postbop, bristling with intricate themes…a scintillating encounter…– The Guardian link
Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartetbuy Black Water buy Mother Tongue buy Codebook
Rudresh's main working group of many years marked by the critically acclaimed albums Black Water, Mother Tongue, and Codebook. Current band members are pianist Craig Taborn, bassist François Moutin, and drummer Dan Weiss. Previous band members include pianist Vijay Iyer and drummer Elliot Kavee. The group is still very active having performed at a recent edition of the North Sea Jazz Festival as well as Chicago's Jazz Showcase.
To observe that Mahanthappa fused the incantatory phrase-making and exotic scales of Indian music with the free-wheeling improvisational spirit of American jazz would be an understatement. He's so thoroughly immersed in both worlds that he conjured up a startlingly original merger of the two.– Chicago Tribune link
The band references a classic hard-bop sound, but what they play is many times more compact and intense. Mahanthappa's biting attack pairs a Coltrane influence with an incisive, exacting articulation, which absolutely soars…– JazzTimes link
Indo-Pak Coalitionbuy Apti
Synthesizing jazz with the improvised musical forms of South Asia, the Indo-Pak Coalition transcends any preconception of Indo-jazz fusion. Led alto-saxophonist Mahanthappa, this trio with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and first-call percussionist Dan Weiss has turned heads internationally in both the jazz and world music scenes. Their debut album Apti (Innova, 2008) received excellent reviews from a variety of publications including the New York Times and Rolling Stone, and the group has played concerts and festivals around the world, most recently at the 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival.
NPR: Listen to broadcast of the Indo-Pak Coalition live at the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival. link
Numerous attempts at Indo-Jazz Fusions have been made in the past, but few have been as authoritative as Apti.– AllAboutJazz link
…a trio equally grounded in folk tradition and jazz improvisation, proposes a social pact as well a musical ideal.– NYTimes link
Dakshina Ensemblebuy Kinsmen
The Dakshina Ensemble is Rudresh's col-led with Kadri Gopalnath, a living legend of Indian music known as "The Emperor of the Saxophone," a true innovator in bringing the saxophone to Indian classical music. Their work is exemplar of successful multicultural, transnational collaboration. Utilizing his extensive knowledge of both jazz and the traditional melodic and rhythmic concepts of Indian music, Mahanthappa has masterfully provided a framework has resulted in spectacular interaction and virtuosic displays from Gopalnath, A. Kanyakumari on violin and Rez Abassi on guitar. The band also features Poovalur Sriji on Mridangam (South Indian barrel drum), Carlo de Rosa on acoustic bass and royal hartigan on drums.
Make no mistake, Kinsmen is a stylish and evocative blend of indigenous art forms, an extraordinarily successful East-meets-West experiment, and the most stimulating world/jazz soundclash since Ornette Coleman jammed in Jajouka.– JazzTimes
Three things are instantly evident: the music is meticulously ordered; it has a massed density that suggests an illusory approach to free jazz; and it swings like mad.– The New Yorker link
Dual Identitybuy Dual Identity
Mahanthappa and Lehman's hyper-modern compositional vision is brought to life by their remarkable quintet, featuring three musicians who represent the absolute state-of-the-art on their respective instruments: Damion Reid on drums, Matt Brewer on bass and Liberty Ellman on guitar. Ellman has become an established master, capable of asserting his one-of-a-kind instrumental voice, and Damion Reid and Matt Brewer have also earned an elite international reputation for their unique ability to execute the most demanding compositional materials with dazzling improvisational finesse.
We won't get a history of contemporary jazz for some time, and the era of jazz stars known outside the jazz world is mostly over, but Mahanthappa and Lehman seem likely to find themselves well-ensconced in that future history…– Pitchfork.com link
Mahanthappa has sopped up Coltrane and the Karnatic tradition, but here blends in with Lehman, who learned his stuff from Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, with a more accessible take on the latter's compositional discipline.– Village Voice link
Providing the counterpoint to Mahanthappa are two outstanding European musicians. Drummer Chander Sardjoe is Indo-Dutch, and that duality has stimulated exhaustive study of both Western and South Indian traditions, creating a tour de force of colour and fluency in this rarified rhythmic environment. Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle, another well versed in the subtle complexities of Indian classical music, sounds very at home with his counterparts, and equally responsive to the universe of rhythmic possibility that opens up when this trio cuts loose.
Imagine a combination of the souk, the bazaar, the circus and the ashram, and add a mathematician's concern for precision, and the sensual detail of Indian dance. Overlay it all with something of Bird's headlong, virtuosic imagination and a touch of Ornette's open, permeable approach to structure, and the result suggests an approximation of Mahanthappa's – and the group's – particular chemistry.– The Irish Times
Maugerbuy The Beautiful Enabler
Extraordinarily gifted musicians, innovators of defining and expanding the meaning of contemporary jazz, and being of wholly creative minds, [Mark] Dresser and [Gerry] Hemingway are always capable of surprising. On "The Beautiful Enabler" these two veterans of creative music join forces with… Mahanthappa. This CD is a fine example of empathy and group interaction, something only possible when the musicians involved are selflessly concerned with the musical results of the ensemble and not their own individual performances.
With more than thirty years experience playing together in a multitude of settings, [Dresser and Hemingway] are one of the most telepathic bass-drums tandems active today. But, far from being the odd man out, Mahanthappa plays like he spent years in the shed with them.– Downbeat
Raw Materialsbuy Raw Materials
Pianist Vijay Iyer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa represent a new generation of American jazz musicians who explore the cultures of their ancestry through their music. The sons of immigrants from India, they draw from Asian, African, and European traditions to create original music that is beyond category. They have gained recognition from audiences, musicians, and critics alike as world-class improvisors and composers, outspoken young Asian American voices, and important forces in the music world.
Their work together over the past couple of years has displayed a rare cohesiveness. Each man is so assuredly rhythmic and so in tune with the other that you won't miss a rhythm section..– Village Voice
Although Raw Materials is the work of a duo, there's more detail here than you'll find from most combos double or triple its size. An auspicious debut– Downbeat: **** (4 stars)