Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mahanthappa's Blues

I am about to go into fanboy mode here: saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa rocks.

The New Yorker calls his new album "astonishing".

While the words "intricate" and "brilliant" are often used to describe his music, don't let that intimidate you. This is not your "typical" avant-garde, free-form post-bop jazz. Rudresh's music is very enjoyable if you just want to lose yourself in the melodies and in the strange, Coleman-meets-Carnatic atmosphere. But if you choose to focus on the sheer virtuosity of his playing, well, there's just so much to appreciate.

NPR's Terry Gross did a fantastic interview with him yesterday. There are all kinds of musical goodies buried in that 30-minute interview. Like hearing Mahanthappa talk about talas (beat cycles) and even tapping out a 21-beat cycle on the air. (You don't get that too often.) Or hearing him talk about how ragas aren't really modes. (Western music critics writing about Indian music: please note.) And also in the interview, Rudresh gushes over a collaborator and a living legend. (He even mentions Fermat's theorem. DUDE!)

All About Jazz has covered him quite extensively. Do check out this interview from 2007 (which originally appeared in an Indian magazine called "M".)

Rudresh Mahanthappa also blogged recently on a jazz blog. It's by no means a serious analysis of Indian classical music, more like a 101 course, but it's still fun to read and has some great audio clips.

For more music and videos, follow these links to Kinsmen (on MySpace) and Rudresh's website.


blackmamba said...

reg. the npr interview. I got in my car last night just as someone started talking about the 21-beat cycle. joy!

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Thanks for the links! Coincidentally, his father (a physicist) was visiting our institute recently and passed on the New Yorker article.

Tabula Rasa said...

oh yes. i heard him play last year and he was definitely cutting edge!

km said...

BM: wasn't that cool? (I also liked how he called himself "math-y")

Rahul: So *that* explains his fondness for cryptography and number theory :)

TR: is there any jazz musician you *haven't* seen perform? (other than 'Trane and Jelly Roll Morton?)

Tabula Rasa said...

heh! loads, of course :-)
i think my biggest gap among current performers is branford marsalis. (i finally got to see wynton this week, but to me branford's a far bigger deal.)