Black Violin is an amazing treat. Part classical music (both Kev and Wil are classically-trained string instrumentalists), part hip hop and completely cool, there’s Kev Marcus on the violin and Wil B. on the viola. The open-mindedness of combining many beats and styles gives them a distinct style that have captured the ears of all listeners of art. The duo current performs with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes to help bring this uniqueness to the masses. Their popularity has risen with a performance accompanying Alicia Keys at the 2004 Billboard Awards, and by performing on the same bill with some of the industry’s biggest artists, such as Wu-Tang Clan, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. The two men are also avid producers and writers, having worked with people like Kanye West, Tom Petty, and the members of Aerosmith. Receiving a great honor, they were invited to play at the Kids Inaugural Concert, one of the inaugural balls for United States President Barack Obama, in 2013. The concert was a special tribute to military families and was attended by First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Malia and Sasha, and Second Lady Jill Biden.
I had an opportunity for a brief conversation with Wil B on his day off (thank you Wil) to discuss what the folks in Madison are geared up for when Black Violin heads to the Overture Center on May 3rd. We get into what opportunity means not only for them, but how to try and open up the world to the youth by believing in themselves. We discuss the path to and the doors that opened for both Wil and Kev to be where they are today.
John Scofield is considered one of the most important guitarists and composers in jazz. His influence began in the late 70’s and is going strong today. Possessor of a distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Mr. Scofield is a masterful improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B. He has prominently led his own groups in the international jazz and contemporary scenes, recorded over 40 albums as a leader (many already classics) and collaborated with current favorites and jazz legends like Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Gov’t Mule, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland and Phil Lesh to name only a few. Throughout his career John has punctuated his traditional jazz offerings with funk-oriented electric music. All along, the guitarist has kept an open musical mind and a variety of audiences in the jazz, rock and classical realms.
I had a chance to share some time with John talking about the upcoming gig at The Barrymore Theatre on 4/21 with the John Scofield Joe Lovano Quartet. We discuss what someone who has never heard the music this quartet creates might be in store for at the show, and how John and Joe have known and grown with each other over a lifetime. It is true that this quartet does not hit the road that often, so catch them while you can. We get into how songs are selected and how the group feeds off one another during a set to keep that moment in time, securely unique. It was thrilling to hear of his working with some of the greats, but we single out Chris Wood (MSMW was about to play a show together) and Warren Haynes (John and Warren just went to a cool concert toGether – find out what is was by listening in). The versatility John shows in his music is the type of path I enjoy weaving from set to set, making those sound neighborhoods that otherwise may never bump into one another, and I think John would enjoy walking down the sidewalks with me in the greenarrowradio hood.
Mr. John Scofield
Joe Marcinek Band is an experience you may never forget. That is because each show features a different lineup of musicians creating a different set of music every night. The music is equal parts Chicago Blues, New Orleans Funk, Grateful Dead Psychedelia, and Jazz Fusion for open minded listeners. Joe tours nationally from New York to LA and everywhere in between. Most of these lineups will only happen one time making every night a can’t miss and unique show.
We are fortunate here in Madison to have an artist like Joe always find a way to bring his unique band meld to us. These incredible one off type shows make for such memorable times for both the audience and the band. Once again, the Joe Marcinek Band is heading to Madison to play the Harmony Bar on April 14th. Joe and I took a moment to catch up and discuss who he will be teaming up with to make music for Madison, we discuss recent working with friend of the program, Mr. Alan Evans (Alan played with Joe and is mixing Joe’s new album. We also talk about teaming up with our boys, Groovesession in Cali and did I mention a new album? Oh yes, we talk about a potential dream come true scenario for Joe with this new record, and once it is finished, I’ll be able to put it into your ears first. And as always, Joe and I mention our bridge connection and respect to Dr. Bernie Worrell.
Photo by: Ian Rawn Photography
More of Ian’s work at his FB page and his IG.
In June of 2017 Midnight North released their third studio album: “Under the Lights”. On this full length record, the band left all they had on the court. Recorded by David Simon-Baker (Los Lobos, ALO, Jackie Greene, Mother Hips) at the Greene Room and Allegiant Studios, “Under the Lights” features their eleven best new tunes. Expect twang of of country on tracks like “The Highway Song” and “Greene County”, morsels of soul on the likes of “Back To California”, but mostly good solid rock and roll. With strong melodies and stronger harmonies, for this band it comes down to one thing: the song.
I had a chance to catch up with Grahame Lesh to talk about the upcoming show on 4/14 at the Midwest Music Festival in LaCrosse and here in Madison on 4/15 at High Noon Saloon. We get into what to be ready for at the show and how the newest release will play in and out live. We dive into the making of the album and how the stories experienced on a tour get worked up, and expressed on a recording and how much this group definitely enjoys stretching it out for those who make it out. Grahame shares his insights from playing both the bigger festival scene(s), and holding down their fifth year of Sunday nights at his dad, Phil Lesh‘s exceptional venue, Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, CA. If you are looking for some harmony in your life, the music of Midnight North will definitely bring it your way.
While brothers Chris and Oliver Wood have been rooted in music since early in their childhood, clearly at times they have made such different types of music over the years, but the influences of their early lives brings them back when The Wood Brothers create together. The storytelling and unique sounds have been gaining all sorts of musical momentum over the years and have included the stages of many a great place, with great people. Now that they are more of the final act on many of those stages, we get an album to match. The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, “One Drop of Truth”, dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. So, grab some popcorn and beer and tune in.
I had the chance to chat once again with friend of the proGram, Mr. Chris Wood about the upcoming SOLD OUT show at the Majestic Theater in Madison on April 12th, with the wonderful Nicki Bluhm opening. We talked about what to expect this time around at the live event as well as dissecting a couple of the tracks on the new release. Chris talks about how working with a variety of artists and art taps into the creative spirit of this band, and we spend a little time talking about Mr. John Scofield in particular as I had just spoke to John about playing with MMW an hour earlier.
After roughly 15 years, hundreds of tour dates, and four studio releases, Chicago Afrobeat Project has found ways of interpreting afrobeat through American urban sounds. Through it all, CAbP has been at the center of the emergence of the North American afrobeat scene and they are constantly focused on keeping the foundation of the music and creative pallet the same but they are always an ever-evolving force. As we sit in 2018, the changes and interpretations of old into new should open ears and minds of a wider audience base, so when you get the chance, take it.
I had the chance to chat with Kevin Ford, keyboardist/producer, about the upcoming show on April 7th at The Sett at the University of Wisconsin (Madison). We shape the image of what someone who has no clue what a Chicago Afrobeat Project will present to them at the show. While the goal of the show is to get down and have a great time, the event is definitely a conscious party. We get into the making of the new release “What Goes Up” Ft. the legend, Mr. Tony Allen and how getting to work and perform with Mr. Allen kept the band on it’s musical toes. We also learn what Kevin is listening to these days and how that could easiler turn into a wild DJ set duo with the two of us.
Chicago Afrobeat Project Full Band
Mr. Del McCoury has had a long career in bluegrass. Although originally hired as banjo player, he sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar for Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1963, with whom he first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In the 1980s his sons began performing with him. Fiddler Tad Marks and bass player Mike Brantley joined the group in early 1990s. They relocated to Nashville, Tennessee as they began to attract attention. Fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Mike Bub joined in 1992. Alan Bartram joined the band as bassist in 2005. Mr. McCoury became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in October 2003 and has influenced a great number of bands, including Phish, with whom he has shared the stage several times and who have covered his songs. He has also performed with The String Cheese Incident and Donna the Buffalo, and recorded with Steve Earle. Mr. McCoury has covered songs by artists as diverse as The Lovin’ Spoonful, Tom Petty, and Richard Thompson and has appeared at festivals including Bonnaroo, High Sierra, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and the Newport Folk Festival. In 2008, Mr. McCoury started DelFest, an annual bluegrass festival in Cumberland, Maryland, held at the Allegany County Fairgrounds with the Del McCoury Band plays every night at each of the festivals.
I had the honor of chatting with Mr. McCoury to support the April 21st show at the Stoughton Opera House. We spent time talking about the history of Bluegrass music, from when he started to where it is now. We got into a discussion about his soon to be released album, “Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass” will drop this May 25th, smack dab in the middle of Delfest and along side the release of his son’s group, The Travlin’ McCoury’s new release. We spoke about his work with Jerry Lee Lewis and friend of the proGram, Mr. David “Dawg” Grisman. We even get a little insight as to the first time Mr. McCoury met up with Jerry Garcia and what could have become of it if Jerry was a little less shy.
It is always a treat to speak with the greats, and in this case, it sure did not disappoint.
Mr. Del McCoury
Detroit’s Laura Rain and the Caesars transform funky soul and r&b into their own unique vision. Inspired by the spirit of classic recordings of time gone before us, Laura Rain creates her own environment of expression with a powerful and soulful voice. Formed in the Motor City in 2012 with her husband George Friend, the pair set off on a creative journey writing and recording their own music. The two received many accolades within the music press and radio with their debut release “Electrified” in 2013. Performing with a stripped down lineup of organ, guitar and drums….the band developed it’s signature sound, and cultivated a vintage toned energetic foundation. With the release of the fourth recording “Walk with Me”, Laura and the band push the envelope of this unique soul music. Channeling inspiration from Detroit’s long and legendary history of dance music, funk, blues, soul and r&b, Laura Rain gives modern music a raw, yet sophisticated shot of much needed authenticity and heart.
ON March 23rd at Club Tavern in Middleton Wisconsin, Laura Rain and the Caesars will bring that sound to the people. I had the opportunity to chat with Laura about what the audience should plan on gettin’ at this event, the process of creating their latest release and how the band and she have grown as creators. We spend some time talking about the place that is most intimate for her and George to write and record and how baby makes three has added to the mix. If you have a money-maker in your crew, let them know about this show….they may need to go SHAKE it there.
Soulive has been one of those bands I have been fond since the early days of listening and sharing music with others. They have played with many who have been on the proGram before and the sound they have been most known for over the years, deep funky rockin’ jams, always make for a great time whether over the radio or home stereo. There’s no telling what you’ll see when you press “Play” on the long-awaited new EP (been about six years since their last official release) from this genre-smashing groove dominating group, but these five dynamic new tunes are guaranteed to turn the backs of your eyelids into a vibrant, action-packed movie screen. With “Cinematics Vol. 1”, the band transforms their infectious blend of soul-jazz, hip-hop, R&B, funk and rock into a series of soundtracks for the movies of your mind.
I had the chance to talk to the man behind the kit for Soulive, Alan Evans about what the fellas (Eric Krasno, Neal Evans and Al) have been up to since their last album. We talk a little about Alan’s Iron Wax Studio and where he might retreat to if ever in need of that time away from things. We spend some time discussing how this new release was born and how it grew up from that idea in infancy to this final product I get to share out with the listeners. We also touch base on a new band he is making music with, Matador! Soul Sounds and what he would play if given the opportunity to take over greenarrowradio for a bit.
Simply calling Curtis Harding a “soul man” feels reductive. Yes, his music is undoubtedly soulful and his songwriting is both evocative and provocative, but there’s more to his music than the stock imagery the label conjures. Harding’s voice can convey pain, pleasure, longing, tenderness, sadness and strength…..the entire gamut of emotions. Yet still, “soul man” seems too simple a description for musician like Curtis, a man who has lived multiple lives as a musician, participated in different scenes, and brought all those varied sounds and experiences together to carve out his own unique niche.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Curtis about the upcoming show in Madison on March 21st at the Majestic Theater. We give props to the band that’ll help create that night’s vibe, dig a little bit into that “Slop and Soul” sound and experience that he is getting well known for and we spend some quality time talking about the growth of him and his craft between the two releases, “Soul Power” in 2014 and “Face Your Fear” in 2017. We discuss some of the new things happening with him, such as his recent appearance playing with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, his work on the Sundance TV period drama series, “Hap and Leonard” and we get a glimpse into the styles of music and the flow Curtis would give the listeners of greenarrowradio if he took over proGramming for a bit.
Curtis Harding at the Echo (Photo by Andie Mills)
Our friends over at Ropeadope are thrilled to announce release of The John L. Nelson Project, “Don’t Play With Love”. The long anticipated album was in conversations between Mr. Nelson and his eldest daughter, Sharon, many years ago. In a time before Prince Rogers Nelson changed the world of music. Shelved as John L. Nelson frequently collaborated with Prince, the project re-appeared in serendipitous fashion with the sheet music falling out of a cabinet as Sharon Nelson was organizing (yes, just like the movie). Sharon brought the great Louis Hayes (her & Prince’s cousin) to Paisley Park with his seasoned band – including Richard Germanson, Dezron Douglas, Vincent Herring, and Jeremy Pelt. And these cats laid down seven tracks live. The incredible history paints the picture, and these players and those melodies let the music jump right off the canvas. “Don’t Play With Love” is a journey from the past to the present conjuring up the sense of an earlier time yet the feeling of the human emotion that rings true for eternity.
I had the distinct pleasure of discussing this new release with Ms. Sharon Nelson. We start off learning about the man, the father and the musician, John L. Nelson was. Kind, caring and hardworking went into all that he did. We dove into the journey that was life and how her dad’s would find time to write and create the songs that she and Prince would go to bed to each night. Because of their collaborations at times, you can hear the influence of Mr. Nelson in some of Prince’s music. As Sharon says a few times, “The music ran in our DNA”. We talk about how this Be-Bop sound is both fresh and familiar and how the incredibly talented group of musicians worked and shared this emotional journey with Sharon leading the production…..well, she does talk about the presence of her father and brother within Paisley Park overseeing the entire project. This to me is another wonderful peek into jazz music, into the Nelson family, and how a guy so many of us felt we knew, observed and allowed himself to be influenced. This album is important in so many ways, as a teaching tool, as a history book and as a look towards the future of modern music.
I am humbled and honored.
You can dive in and listen or take it home here
The John L. Nelson Project – Don’t Play With Love
Jake La Botz hit the road at fifteen. He became a man of many crafts, including time spent as a roofer, boilermaker, factory worker, and obituary writer. In the midst of this he learned how to play guitar. He played on the streets and in the juke joints of New Orleans, Chicago, and the Mississippi Delta, finding kinship with some of the last of the pre-war era bluesmen: David “Honeyboy” Edwards, “Homesick” James, and “Maxwell Street” Jimmy Davis. He has become known for his “Tattoo Across America Tour”, where he tours the country performing at tattoo shops. He is also known as an actor in films in which he sometimes sings his original songs: RAMBO directed by Sylvester Stallone, ANIMAL FACTORY directed by Steve Buscemi and others are part of his resume. Jake has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe and has opened for Ray Charles, Etta James, Dr. John, Mavis Staples, JD McPherson, Buddy Guy, Jr. Wells, Taj Mahal, Buckwheat Zydeco, Tony Joe White, John Hammond, The Blasters and a host of other greats.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Jake about his upcoming stop in Madison on March 7th at the High Noon Saloon opening for Lucero. We get into why the pairing of his music works with opening for a band like Lucero and who he is bringing along with him to share his stories. We talk about how he became the man and the musician he is today, which I learn he and I share the same “he was my favorite person growing up” about our respected grandpas. We spend some time getting a feel for how his latest release, Sunnyside on Hi-Style Records went from its beGinnings to a point where I have been able to share with listeners.
Friend of the proGram, Mr. Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five Grammy wins and over 20 acclaimed albums. For his latest project, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (April 28, 2017 / Jay-Vee Records), the Blues Hall of Famer traveled to Memphis with his friend, renowned Grammy Award winning producer Steve Jordan, to make a classic soul album with Hi Rhythm, the band that helped create that sound. Mr. Cray has a style that is easily recognizable, he has always had a unique sound to himself and when that first note of a tune is hit, it is comfortable knowing what is abut to come with the rest.
I had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming show atThe Barrymore Theatre in Madison on March 8th with Mr. Cray. We got into a role call of his band-mates/friends and how they inspire him to keep on getting better at their craft. We compare and contrast the latest release, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm to his 1983 (second album release), Bad Influence. Last time Mr. Cray and I spoke we talked about how if he was not a touring successful musician/artist, he would be some kind of cook or chef, so we find out what would be on the menu today. We also learn what he would play on greenarrowradio, if I walked out of the studio and left him in charge for a bit. Once again, it is a thrill to talk to an artist who is equally as talented as they are down to Earth. Take a listen above to hear for yourself.
For over 50 years, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo has warmed the hearts of audiences worldwide with their uplifting vocal harmonies, signature dance moves and charming onstage banter. With a deep respect for both their cultural and personal history, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is ever-evolving with an eye toward their long musical legacy. Over the years, the original members have welcomed a younger generation in their mission, passing along the tradition of storytelling and spreading their message of peace, love, and harmony to millions of people. The newer members, in turn, have infused the group with their youthful energy and the promise of a bright future. Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala looks to these young men to carry on his dream to “keep South Africa alive in people’s hearts” for years to come.
I had the honor of talking with Albert Mazibuko, who has been with the group since the early seventies, as Ladysmith Black Mambazo makes their way to Madison on February 24, at the Overture Center for the Arts. Albert and I discuss the two latest Grammy nominated albums, “Songs of Peace and Love for Kids & Parents Around the World” and “Shaka Zulu Revisited” and how handing off the group’s mission to someone other than Joseph Shabalala became the new way, without forgetting the way it has been. and what a young kid could expect from their first time being a part of a show. We walked down the path of creating an album for children and something real interesting, was the conversation about how new members are invited to try to become a part of this worldwide cultural legacy. Fascinating.
Kate McGarry looks ahead with optimism born of the many facets of love on her first trio album featuring Keith Ganz and Gary Versace. On The Subject Tonight Is Love, out February 2 via Binxtown Records, the trio conjures an alluring cinematic approach to a wide-ranging spectrum of love songs. Kate is as versatile a songwriter and singer out there who is able to translate feeling into sound, with words and with the way the words are drawn outward. She is someone who has taking in many lessons from life, music, and love to help paint the expressions into song.
I had the opportunity to talk with Kate about the new album. How the magic moments took place and just when was it that the three artists did the best research and development behind the compositions. We take time to dissect one of my favorite tunes on the album and get a chuck of interesting insight into the flow of the album. Each arrtists brings a sense of how to do the things they set out to accomplish, this conversation will give you a very strong idea how Kate and Keith and Gary all were able to take advantage of each others rare time, energy and devotion to the project. We even get a little peek into some of the music Kate is turning to these days, as a listener, herself.
Whether you know Jorma Kaukonen from his legendary hall of fame work with bands like Jefferson Airplane or Hot Tuna, or as a singing/songwriting troubadour spinning and telling his tales as a solo artist, his dynamic style is captivating. Jorma has a natural way of making the music, and the story not only sound good, but it feels right and relate-able. He is one of those artists that makes it comfortable to get a look at life from his take. Fortunately, we will get to take a shared ride down the same path as Jorma heads to the Stoughton Opera House on February 15th.
I had the honor of talking with Jorma about how the music and the times do some changing. We chat a bit about storytelling and storytellers, even sharing which book remains one of those we were first introduced to that stuck. The thing I have always liked about Jorma is the things he does for music and to enhance the learning experience of those around him. The work being done at Fur Peace Ranch is just one example of some of the cool going on in his scene. We share thoughts about three of his friends and instructors, and friends of the proGram, Mr. Tommy Emmanuel, Teresa Williams & Larry Campbell. While learning why Jorma prefers live music and what makes a good show, in his opinion…Jorma shares a nice word or two about the Stoughton Opera House.
House of Waters forms a rare and dynamic soundscape. They incorporate elements of West-African, jazz, psychedelic, indie rock, classical and world music into their astonishingly unique sound. House of Waters’ music is both complex and easy to enjoy, a musical exploration that invites listeners to open themselves to new sounds. One of those sounds is that of Max ZT‘s instrument, the hammered dulcimer, a percussion/stringed instrument that takes years of study and spans dozens of cultures around the globe. Most often associated with traditional American and Irish folk music, Max has taken the instrument in entirely new directions. But to truly experience House of Waters, see them live. The reward of this band’s versatility is that they easily fit in so many different spaces within a diverse listener group. We are fortunate to have them coming to the Stoughton Opera House on February 17th to do some ear and mind opening.
Please enjoy my conversation with Max as House of Waters makes their maiden voyage to play Wisconsin. We find out why Max decided to follow in the footsteps of so many others and form a Hammered Dulcimer Power Trio and follow it on a journey which makes him incredibly happy, and that feeling is bound to be shared in a live setting. Max gives a little background on his band-mates and how they are able to meld this completely unique experience into something that, at times, has as many layers as one can dream of. We go deep and learn the true meaning behind the band’s name and we walk down the process path that has gone into creates a new album’s flow. Speaking of….there’s a new album coming out very soon. We even take a couple of moments to pay respect to the inspiration a couple of artists House of Waters shared the stage with and the impact the way those artists did what they did, had on Max.
House of Waters
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is a cover band of sorts that takes some of the tunes of The Grateful Dead and allows them to flow out of their collective beings into a sound pool for some of the most involved fan-base there ever has been. When these five cats get toGether in this form, the momentary surprises are many and way far out. The five are: Joe Russo, Dave Dreiwitz, (friend of the program) Marco Benevento, Scott Metzger & Tom Hamilton. Each bring an incredible individual force to this JRAD scene. While Joe has been a big part of Further and played with members of the Dead, this band brings as much of themselves to the “cover” of the Dead (and a few other bands) to reform a sound and a feeling that is recognizable and exciting. JRAD has been touring and securing itself on the festival scene while constantly bringing more ears along for the ride and us in Madison are lucky to welcome them here on February 18th at The Orpheum.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to talk to Joe before they land here in Madison. We spend time getting to understand what dialect and language each individual brings to this group and the fun and energy that causes in a live setting. We talk about how they add the skins to the spine that is the vast songbook of The Grateful Dead, and how much of the show is based off improvised segments within that skeletal system of sound. Joe attests that this project might have started off with the idea of a one off and you can hear a little of the amazement in his voice when talking about how long the pulse has been thumping. Hearing Joe speak about the times they have had to call in a sub or two off the bench (including Oteil Burbridge) is really truly a sincere appreciation of brothers. To my brothers and sisters, please enjoy this chat.
PHOTO BY Timothy Dwenger
Falu is internationally recognized for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent. She was trained rigorously in the Jaipur musical tradition and in the Benares style of Thumrie. She later continued studying under the late sarangi/vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan, and later with the legendary Smt. Kishori Amonkar (Jaipur style). Originally from Bombay, Falu moved to the States in 2000 and was appointed as a visiting lecturer at Tufts University. Falu’s subsequent career in the States had led to a series of brilliant and high profile collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler and A. R. Rahman amongst, to name just a few. She has even performed for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. I have always enjoyed the artist, Falu but what I have learned over time is that it is also the person she is that adds to the art. Her latest project, “Falu’s Bazaar” takes families on a musical journey through South Asia, while creating the wide open opportunity to learn about the culture, everyday life and how to be a a cultivator of ones roots.
I had the pleasure of talking with Falu about the project. We took a walk through the bazaar together and discovered how the flow of the album from top down to lullaby were presented as ideas, and how the questions of a child can really lead you any/everywhere. In a first, Falu’s son Nishaad took to the conversation. He unveils what his favorite song on the album is, how grandma did with her song and there’s actually an unplugged version of the album’s opening track, as performed by Nishaad. Radio gold. Please enjoy our conversation.
Sameer Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drumset, and Indian classical music on tabla. Though his first few years were spent under the guidance of Ustad Zakir Hussain, his own interests and love of tabla brought him to the great tabla maestro Pt Anindo Chatterjee. Sameer has continued to build his career by combining traditional and modern improvisational styles drawing from his dual Indian and American heritage, and has already established himself as an original musical voice in jazz, world, and fusion music. From his early percussion studies in Tokyo, Japan in the mid 80s, he has consistently placed himself in many challenging musical environments. From bebop to avant-garde jazz, and European classical percussion to North Indian classical tabla, he continues to compose and perform music from a true multi-cultural perspective that now bridges several continents. As 2018 rolls in, Sameer is set to release a brand new album, “A Circle Has No Beginning”. This project brings together some of today’s finest accompanists and soloists in various styles to create a truly remarkable musical journey. With a firm Indian Classical Raga influence, the album draws on strong modern jazz improvisational roots to heighten the creative energy and spectrum of possibilities.
I had the pleasure of talking with Sameer about the project, and how he was able to follow the album from the directions it was taking him and his colleagues. We break down a couple of the artists and their important contributions and shared visions. We dissect a couple of the tracks that hit me hard in my heart’s ears as well as compare and contrast a little between the new album and his last release, Namaskar. We walk a little through the scene of the Brooklyn Raga Massive which has been hailed as “Leaders of the Raga Renaissance” by the New Yorker. I have to say that I always get a thrill out of talking about an album, a song a scene I digg, but this album took me on a new turn and I was equally opened up by chatting with Sameer about the flow, the process and the way music….in the moment….makes it happen. I hope you’ll find the same feeling about both, the album itself and the people who are behind the moments.
Musicians of the Project
Sameer Gupta – Drumset, Tabla; Marc Cary – Wurlitzer, Moog, Synth; Morley Shanti-Kamen – Vox (on Little Wheel Spin and Spin); Marika Hughes – Cello, Vox; Brandee Younger – Harp; Arun Ramamurthy – Carnatic Violin; Jay Gandhi – Bansuri Flute; Trina Basu – Violin; Rashaan Carter – Bass; Neel Murgai – Sitar; Pawan Benjamin – Tenor Saxophone; Sharik Hasan – Piano, Keys; Michael Gam – Bass