Natraj captivates and excites listeners with its exotic textures, accessible melodies, and rhythmic energy. Hard-driving African grooves and graceful Indian ragas mingle in the band's expansive jazz conception and disciplined ensemble playing.
In its new release, Song of the Swan, Natraj adeptly blends contemplative raga improvisation, high-energy African- and Indian-based grooves, complex odd meters and polyrhythms, and edgy contemporary jazz. Song of the Swan features guest bamboo flute virtuosos, Steve Gorn and V. K. Raman, who join Natraj regulars, raga-influenced soprano saxophonist Phil Scarff, ECM violist Mat Maneri, bassist Michael Rivard, tabla and multipercussion wizard Jerry Leake, and drummer Bertram Lehmann.
Natraj brings unparalleled depth to this project, with its members’ formidable jazz chops informed by years of study and performance of Indian and West African musics, collaborations with many Indian and West African masters, and over 17 years of honing their fusion artistry together.
The repertoire features originals and adaptations of pieces from Africa and India. The title track, a raga-based composition by leader Phil Scarff and percussionist T. K. Ramakrishnan, highlights intricate South Indian rhythms. The music moves to Ghana with the grooving African-based The Ride, with melodic lines based on talking drum patterns. In the more relaxed Nectar of the Gods, jazz harmonies and rhythms enhance raga melodies. India meets up-tempo, hard swinging jazz in Bageshri-Bageshwari. Miato Bebeviawo and Kale Nutsu are contemporary treatments of Ghanaian songs featuring Maneri’s ethereal viola work. The album’s closer, a suite of compositions in Raga Ahir Bhairav, begins with Scarff and Gorn weaving a gorgeous meditative alap, and ends with a high-energy contemporary take on an Indian composition.
Natraj has previously released three acclaimed CDs on Dorian, Accurate, and Galloping Goat.
“The future of jazz... the future of world music… a spellbinding tapestry.”- Times of India
“A seamless blend of jazz and Indian music.... delightfully unconventional.” - Jazziz
“Natraj makes East and West meet more seamlessly than any band before them.” - Boston Herald
“Watch out for this energetic and wildly intelligent ensemble... formidable virtuosos.”
- Mid-Day, Mumbai, India