Arun Ramamurthy Trio
At least since Ravi Shankar achieved mass US popularity in the 1960s, the temptation to blenderize East Indian musics with western forms has, in amateur hands, produced some fairly dreadful slop. Indian herbs and spices are perhaps best appreciated in traditional sub-continental cuisine; travel to Germany, try some currywurst, and decide for yourself.
But for artists deeply versed in jazz, Carnatic, and Hindustani disciplines, another outcome is possible. Indian-American violinist Arun Ramamurthy became a Carnatic music acolyte at age 11 under the tutelage of his first guru. He studied with Anantha Krishnan Uncle, along with master Carnatic violinists and brothers Sri Mysore Nagaraj and Dr. Mysore Manjunath. He was soon performing with noted Indian and North American musicians, appearing in settings as diverse as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and in his regular role as curator of the “Carnatic Sundays” program at Cornelia Street Café, the New York jazz venue. Ramamurthy joins the successful few who have melded jazz and traditional Indian music (saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and guitarist John McLaughlin come to mind). Backing in spare, astute, improvisatory fashion are bassist Perry Wortman and drummer Sameer Gupta, along with guests Marc Cary (piano), Trina Basu (violin), and Akshay Anantapadmanabhan (mrindangam).
Recorded in Brooklyn, Jazz Carnatica serves up a pair of Ramamurthy originals and mostly traditional South Indian tunes from the 17th century forward, tapping a musical vein of considerable promise. - Michael Stone
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