About East Facing:
In the Western world, the term "East Facing" may conjure up a sympathy towards or inspiration from the Far East, in many cases, India. In India, the term is often associated with the direction of a house in relation to Vaasthu Shastra (the ancient Indian version of Feng-Shui).
However, in India as well as in other nations, the direction East also refers to the auspicious direction of the rising sun, signifying new beginnings. It is a tradition that the student must face East when bowing to receive the guru's blessings with the intention of growing and moving forward. Carnatic saxophonist Prasant Radhakrishnan's 3rd album derives its title, "East Facing," from this meaning.
Accompanied by established veterans B.U. Ganeshprasad (violin), P. Satishkumar (mridungam), V. Suresh (ghatam) and B. Rajashekar (morsing), Radhakrishnan continues to hone his distinct style of bringing Carnatic music to the saxophone by emphasizing the vocal quality of the instrument while still bringing out the saxophone's unique strengths.
East Facing is Radhakrishnan's most powerful, yet direct and balanced record to date. He presents a weighty, classic composition often reserved for vocalists in Kshinamai (raga Mukhari, tracks 4 and 5), while also composing a brisk pallavi in the unconventional Misrachapu thalam (7 beat cycle, track 8). Among the six contrasting compositions on the disc, there is no repetition of raga (melod), tala (rhythmic cycle) or composer.
About the artist:
Prasant Radhakrishnan is a versatile saxophonist identified with both the South Indian Classical (Carnatic) and Jazz disciplines. He received initial training from veena vidwan, Mrs. Vijaya Prabhakar. Prasant started learning Carnatic music on saxophone under the able guidance of his guru, "Padmashri" Kadri Gopalnath, in 1996. He underwent rigorous training during summers in India, and soon began accompanying his guru in concerts and performing solo.
Since then, Prasant has given numerous solo concerts internationally, including regular concerts at the Chennai December music season in leading sabha organizations. His two previous albums, Swara Sudha and Duality (both available on CDBaby), have received critical acclaim and wide appreciation from listeners. Prasant has accompanied his guru in hundreds of concerts within India and the US, putting him in the company of not only Sri Kadri Gopalnath, but also with several of the most senior accompanying artists in the field of Carnatic music.
Not limited by genres, Prasant has also been greatly influenced by the Jazz tradition. As a musical mind trained in two traditions, Prasant recently founded VidyA, a group that combines the traditions of Carnatic music and Jazz. Already creating a buzz in the San Francisco Bay area, Vidya will be the liason between the Jazz and Indian classical music world, and a vehicle to introduce these traditions to new listeners.
In 2004, Prasant was awarded the prestigious Senior Performing and Creative Arts Fellowship by the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS). From June 2004-March 2005, as an AIIS senior fellow, Prasant undertook deeper study of Carnatic music and theory under several famous Carnatic music masters while innovating new saxophone techniques and traveling all over India giving concerts and lecture demonstrations. Prasant's second CD, Duality, is a reflection of his work during the fellowship.
As part of an ongoing goal, Prasant strives to put to rest misconceptions and preconceived notions about Carnatic music and jazz as well as the use of saxophone in Carnatic music. Through his continued study of tradition, constant innovation and performance on the saxophone, Prasant is creating a new path for the future of Carnatic music and Jazz.