lunedì 23 gennaio 2012

Intervista a Rudresh Mahanthappa

Negli ultimi anni una serie di musicisti americani di origine indiana, come Vijay Iyer, Rez Abbasi e sopratutto l'altosassofonista Rudresh Mahanthappa, hanno mostrato interesse nel fondere la musica classica indiana con il jazz.

Il sito CapitalBop ha recentemente pubblicato una intervista a Mahanthappa, di cui pubblichiamo un estratto:
CapitalBop: What in particular struck you upon first hearing Saxophone Indian Style, by Kadri Gopalnath? And then, during your apprenticeship with him, what did he teach you that hadn’t already come through on the record?
Rudresh Mahanthappa: I had already heard about Kadri Gopalnath before hearing Saxophone Indian Style. In fact, I has taken a trip to India with the Berklee All-Stars and tried to search him out to no avail. The important issue with that album was that I was able to hear Indian Classical music on the saxophone. Up to that point, I had been trying to emulate string players and vocalists, which proved very difficult on my instrument. Hearing Kadri opened a door for me, as I could follow what he doing by ear and even attempt to imitate in much the same way I had been with Coltrane, Bird [Charlie Parker], etc.
Apprenticeship might be a bit too strong of a word. For Kinsmen, we actually conceived music together. With regard to Samdhi, I went over to his house every day for almost a month and picked his brain about various ragas and the melodic ornamentation (gamaka) therein. I really want to grasp the main underlying concepts of both in a real technical way at a root level, the dos and don’ts, the whys and why nots, etc. I also wanted to learn how he was doing some of these things on the saxophone. In playing a closed-hole instrument, he has developed some truly extraordinary techniques!
One can tell when it’s an invented conceit that has inspired an artist to fuse two concepts, rather than a natural and inevitable compulsion. In the case of your music, the way you bring together jazz and Carnatic music feels like it stems from the latter ­– it’s something altogether unforced, and logical. Where do you find points of convergence between these two improvisation-based musics?
Well, it’s important to realize that the core of my journey stems not only from musical interest but more from defining and describing my hybrid identity as an Indian-American. It’s always been important for me to treat both Indian music and jazz with the utmost integrity as selling either short would be equivalent to selling my soul cheaply. To me, the importance of rhythm is a major common factor. When I hear Jack DeJohnette, I hear Trichy Sankaran, when I hear Zakir Hussain, I hear Max Roach.
Though the melodic approaches are different, the emphasis on beautiful “song-making” and personal expression are another place where these art forms cross.
Much is always made, appropriately, of your interest in Carnatic music, but who are some American jazz saxophonists that have particularly influenced you? For me, it seems clear that Steve Coleman and Bunky Green had large impacts on your playing; feel free to talk about them, or about others I’ve missed.
Ahh, yes. I wish more people asked me that as I always consider myself a jazz musician through and through. Charlie Parker is obviously a huge one for me. When I first heard the Savoy Recording in elementary school, there was no going back. After that, it was mainly tenor players. My approach to the alto is actually quite tenor-istic, if you will. A lot of Coltrane, all periods. The original Impressions album is still one that I go back to when I’m feeling uninspired. The recording of Johnny Griffin playing “Cherokee” taught me how to articulate and feel faster tempos. Von Freeman was vital when I lived in Chicago in the mid-90s. Gary Bartz is always amazing. Just saw him the other night with McCoy [Tyner] and he sounded fabulous. Obviously, Bunky and the M-Base guys (Coleman, [Greg] Osby, Gary Thomas) were all an inspiration.....
(leggi l'articolo integrale sul sito originario)

Ecco un video di Rudresh Mahanthappa che presenta Killer, registrato al Firehouse di New Haven, CT il 4/11/2011:

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