Dec 3, 2017
I can’t think of a musician with whom I’d rather celebrate Podcast 600 than Rudresh Mahanthappa. Long one of jazz’s top saxophone players, he has helped build a jazz program at Princeton University, while helping raise a young family. He’s also extremely articulate, and a delightful person with whom to have a give and take conversation.
Rudresh toured steadily behind his last CD, Bird Calls, which was universally praised. I chose it as one of the best releases of 2015, and have been patiently waiting to see what he would do next. So, it’s a thrill to see that he has returned to his collaboration with Rez Abbasi and Dan Weiss known as the Indo-Pak coalition. They released Apti in 2008, and have played live, but not recorded as a trio since then.
Agrima is their new release, and it reflects the musical growth the three players have experienced over the years. The Indian beats and sounds are still there, but now electronic effects have made Rez’s guitar and Rudresh’s alto sound like a myriad of instruments. Weiss, already a tabla master, has added drum kit to some of the tracks, bringing a more Western sound. When Rudresh says he wants people to listen to Agrima as if it were a rock record, he’s not far from the truth.
Podcast 600 let’s Rudresh explain how the group works together, and how they arrived at this modified sound. Musical selections from Agrima include the title track, “Snap” and “Revati.”