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Rudresh Mahanthappa

Rudresh Mahanthappa

composer and alto sax

Rudresh Mahanthappa hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form, reflecting his own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American. Just as his personal experience is never wholly lived on one side of the hyphenate or the other, his music speaks in a voice dedicated to forging a new path forward.

The current manifestations of that trajectory include his latest quintet project Bird Calls. The 2013 album Gamak featured guitarist David “Fuze” Fiuczynski, whose own microtonal vocabulary opened new possibilities for Mahanthappa’s compositional imagination, alongside bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Dan Weiss. The 2010 debut CD by Samdhi, a multi-cultural ensemble that advanced Mahanthappa’s blend of jazz and Indian music with modernist electronic music, was described by JazzTimes as “a landmark convergence of styles that didn’t lend itself to easy analysis… new music of this caliber hasn’t been attempted before.”

Hailed by the New York Times as possessing “a roving intellect and a bladelike articulation,” Mahanthappa has been awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and commissions from the Rockefeller Foundation, MAP Fund, Chamber Music America, and the American Composers Forum. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year in Downbeat’s International Critics Polls, JazzTimes’ Critics Polls, and by the Jazz Journalists’ Association numerous times.