Natraj captivates and excites audiences with its exotic textures, accessible melodies, and rhythmic energy. Hard-driving African grooves and graceful Indian ragas meet in the band's expansive jazz conception and disciplined ensemble playing.
Its release, Deccan Dance, highlights Natraj's grooving arrangement of Kalyani by contemporary South Indian classical composers and a free-wheeling version of the West African traditional song, Na Yella Bo. Jazz conception mingles with Indian textures in the interpretations of two traditional North Indian compositions in Raga Bihag. Among the Indo-jazz originals featured on the album is Blue Tumbleweed, which garnered a prize in the Julius Hemphill composition contest, up against entries from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Natraj features the raga-influenced soprano saxophone of Phil Scarff; the emotive inflections of ECM violinist Mat Maneri; the warm, nimble solidity of bassist Michael Rivard; the sure-fingered tabla mastery of Jerry Leake; and high-energy groove of multipercussionist Bertram Lehmann. Since its formation in 1987, Natraj has delighted listeners in clubs, concerts, and festivals throughout the US, Canada, and India. The band has previously released two acclaimed recordings on Dorian Discovery.
“Natraj blends complex tempos and traditions with graceful, unforced virtuosity… a hypnotic, symbiotic tapestry. Fusion is rarely this deep and exotic yet accessible… discover a new world here.” - Boston Globe
“Technical excellence and sensitive musicianship transcend national and cultural boundaries, and there is clearly an abundance of both on this recording. … compare favorably with Shakti... Every performer displays both a melodic and technical flair... The performances on this album are everywhere excellent...” - Cadence
"We heard the future of jazz... we heard the future of world music... Natraj... blasted the remaining barriers between cross-cultural genres... successfully blending Hindustani, Carnatic [Indian classical], African, and swing-jazz influences to create a spellbinding tapestry... a jazz hybrid of celebration and reflection." - Times of India
“Indian/African-jazz fusion with clarity and simplicity... Deploying space and pauses almost in the manner of a sixth player, [Natraj] combine African songs and precisely arranged classical Indian forms with vigorous jazz soloing and lots of space... thoroughly enjoyable.” - Boston Herald