Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's "Kinsmen" is a groundbreaking project that melds jazz with South Indian music into a single organic whole.
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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PI 28
Squidco Product Code: 10412
Recorded November 13 & 14, 2007 by Mike Marciano at Systems Two, Brooklny, NY
Rudresh Mahanthappa-alto saxophone
Kadri Gopalnath-alto sasxophone
Carlo de Rosa-bass
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1. Introspection 2:16
2. Ganesha 10:50
3. Rez-Alap 1:42
4. Longing 11:21
5. Snake! 6:22
6. Carlo-Alap 1:43
7. Katyani 12:50
8. Kadri-Alap 4:08
9. Kanya-Alap 2:37
10. Convergence (Kinsmen) 15:28
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
sample the album:
"Kinsmen is a groundbreaking project by alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa that melds jazz with South Indian music into a single organic whole. Mahanthappa, recently named a Top 10 alto saxophonist in the 2008 DownBeat Critic’s Poll, is one of the most innovative young musicians in jazz today. Kinsmen is his collaboration 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. The music on Kinsmen, featuring their co-led Dakshina Ensemble, 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 that has brought out the best in all the musicians, resulting 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.
For Mahanthappa, who grew up in Boulder, Colorado to Indian immigrant parents, the pull of Indian classical music didn’t come until his college years, when he toured India with the Berklee College of Music All-Stars and was lucky to attend an all-night concert outside of Bangalore where he heard both Carnatic (South Indian) and Hindustani (North Indian) music performed by greats such as Parween Sultana and Chitti Babu. As a young jazz musician, Rudresh saw the parallels between Indian music and jazz with both being improvised art forms with inherently strong rhythmic propulsion. Though he grappled for a way to embrace his Indian-American identity through his music, Rudresh could not find a clear entry point as he had no awareness of any saxophone tradition in classical Indian music. Then one evening, moments after the conclusion of one of his recitals at Berklee, Rudresh’s older brother gave him a CD (as congratulatory gift and as a joke) called Saxophone Indian Style by Kadri Golpalnath. A complete eye-opener, the CD provided a doorway into the realm of musical possibilities for Rudresh through which he could finally engage the music of his ancestry.
A few years later, Mahanthappa managed to meet Kadri backstage at a Carnatic concert in Boston. Golpalnath was not only ecstatic to meet an Indian-American jazz saxophonist, but one of South Indian roots with a name that he deemed to have a powerful Hindu meaning – Rudresh, in Sanskrit, refers to a fierce incarnation of Shiva who saved the human race and Mahanthappa is derived from the same roots as “mahatma,” or “great soul.” Though not trained in jazz, Gopalnath too saw the similarities between the art forms and was enthusiastic about the possibility of joining forces at some point. This became a reality when, with a commission from the Asia Society, Rudresh traveled to Chennai (Madras) in 2005 to work with Kadri at what would eventually become the music on Kinsmen. The piece received a world premiere in New York City at the Asia Society.
Mahanthappa set out to create a body of music that draws on the strengths of both the American and Indian musicians – a music that embodies the rhythmic diversity and harmonic complexity of jazz and the melodic and metrical rigor of Indian classical music. Utilizing Indian ragas, songs, and rhythmic cycles as a starting point, he composed new melodies and harmonies that connect them with a jazz sensibility. About the collaboration, Rudresh says, “The piece is really about finding this middle ground where we’re both comfortable playing in this setting that is half-Western and half-South Indian, and maybe pushing to a point where it actually becomes neither.” Because there is no real tradition of composing new works in Indian classical music – the songs are typically ancient and derived from the Vedas – Mahanthappa initially encountered some hesitation from Golpalnath. Rudresh continues, “Eventually though, I would just ask Kadri to think of something contrapuntally to play with my parts, and he’d sit there and think for a minute and then come up with these beautiful melodies, these lines weaving in and out of each other. It was really amazing.”
After several months of working together, they collectively assembled the Dakshina Ensemble and premiered the piece in New York City in May 2005. In Kinsmen, Mahanthappa has effectively created something that both stretches the musicians while at the same time, enables the musicians on both sides to bring their best to the table. The music burns with passionate interplay: Mahanthappa’s biting attack intertwined with Golpalnath’s staccato outbursts; Kanyakumari’s slippery portamento and Abbasi’s Mahavishnu-like single note runs. Rather than “Indo-Jazz fusion,” the music harmoniously synthesizes the cultural and musical divide, creating a sound that truly transcends labels and genre."-Pi Recordings
• Show Bio for Royal Hartigan
"Royal Hartigan is a percussionist who has studied and performed the musics of Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas, including indigenous West African drumming, dance, song, and highlife; Turkish bendir frame drum; Japanese taiko drumming; Philippine kulintang gong and drum ensemble; Chinese Beijing, Cantonese, and Kunqu opera percussion; South Indian solkattu rhythms; Korean Nong ak drum and gong ensemble; Javanese and Sumatran gamelan; Gaelic bodhran; Native American drumming; Dominican merengue; Brazilian samba; Cambodian sampho drums and Vietnamese clapper percussion, European symphony; and African American blues, gospel, funk, hip-hop, and jazz traditions.
He was awarded an AB in Philosophy from St. Michael's College in 1968, specializing in medieval metaphysics and the existentialism of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Satre. He received a BA degree in African American music at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1981, studying with Roland Wiggins, Frederick Tillis, Reggie Workman, Archie Shepp, Max Roach, and Clifford Jarvis. royal earned his MA and Ph.D degrees in world music at Wesleyan University in 1983 and 1986, studying intensively with ethnomusicologist David McAllester and Bill Lowe, Bill Barron, Ed Blackwell, Freeman Donkor, Abraham Adzenyah, and other master artists from Java, India, and Ghana, West Africa.
He has taught ethnomusicology, African drumming, and world music ensemble at the New School for Social Research in New York and the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Wesleyan University. royal helped develop and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in world music, large and small jazz ensembles, experimental music ensemble, Asian music ensembles (Philippine kulintang and Javanese gamelan), African American music history, and West African drumming and dance at San Jose State University before assuming a position as Assistant Professor in world music at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He has taught Music Theory and Fundamentals, Western Music history, and Introduction to World Music. He currently teaches music of the African Diaspora, area studies, and World Music Survey. He has served on the music department curriculum development, the CVPA lecture series, and the University Cultural Diversity committees as well as initiating grants for numerous workshops and concerts of world music during the 1999-2000 academic year.
His publications include Cross Cultural Performance and Analysis of West African, African American, Native American, Central Javanese, and South Indian Drumming, a 1700-page analysis of world drumming traditions (the Edwin Mellen Press); articles in Percussive Notes, World of Music, Annual Review of Jazz Studies, and The African American Review; and a book with compact disc, West African Rhythms for Drumset (Manhattan Music/Warner Brothers). He has given lectures and clinics on world music and jazz in Africa, China, Europe, and North America. He travels to West Africa each summer to teach, perform, and do research, collaborating with J.H. Nketia at the Institute for African Studies, University of Ghana, and the musicians at the Dagbe Cultural Center, Kopeyia village, Volta Region, Ghana.
He has performed, given workshops, and recorded internationally with his own quartet (Blood Drum Spirit, 1997 and Ancestors 2000), Juba (Look on the Rainbow 1987), Talking Drums (Talking Drums, 1985 and Someday Catch, Someday Down, 1987) the Fred Ho Afro-Asian Music Ensemble (We Refuse to Be Used and Song for Manong, 1988, Underground Railroad to My Heart, 1994, Monkey Epic:Part 1, 1996,Turn Pain Into Power, 1997, Monkey Epic Part 2, 1997, Yes Means Yes, No Means No! 1998, Night Vision 2000), Hafez Modirzadeh's Paradox Ensemble (Chromodal Discourse, 1993 and The Peoples Blues, 1996, The Mystery of Sama 1998), the David Bindman-Tyrone Henderson Project (Strawman Dance, 1993 Iliana's Dance, 1996), and Nathaniel Mackey (Songs of the Andoumboulou, 1995). He has released a documentary and artistic video of his work in West Africa and its relation to the African American music cultures (Eve)."-Royal Hartigan Website (http://www.royalhart.com/Bio/bio.html)
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