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