Jun 19, 2020
It's always a delight to speak with alto sax star Rudresh Mahanthappa. Possessed of a deep knowledge and deeper interest in a wide variety of topics, he brings a wry sense of humor to any discussion we have had.
The release of his Hero Trio album is well worth talking about. Backed by longtime collaborators Francois Moutin (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums), Rudresh pays homage to some of the musicians he has respected and felt influenced by over the years. The artists can be as widely varied, from Charlie Parker to Johnny Cash to Stevie Wonder. The three members of the group work their magic on these borrowed tunes, playing with harmonics, and timing, as well as existing melodies. The results are often magical, as the songs soon become thier own.
The Covid-19 cancellations have hit Mahanthappa hard. Not only is he not playing gigs to support Hero Trio, but he was set to co-lead the official Charlie Parker Centennial tribute tour with Teri Lynne Carrington. Planned to span the globe during 2020, we will be lucky if we get to see the show sometime in 2021. the director of the jazz program at Princeton, Rudresh also faces the possibility of restricted contact with students for the 2020-21 year.
Podcast 749 is my conversation with Rudresh, as we discuss the making of Hero Trio, how he is spending his free time now that his tours and Princeton teaching is on hiatus, and some new multi-media projects he has planned with visual artist Eric Dyer. Musical selections from Hero Trio include "Ring of Fire," "I'll Remember April." and "Red Cross."