BOSTON — World Music/CRASHarts will present CrossCurrents: Zakir Hussain and Dave Holland with Bollywood vocalist Shankar Mahadevan and others on Thursday, May 3, 7:30pm at Berklee Performance Center located at 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston.
Tickets are $79, $65, $52, $40, reserved seating. For tickets and information call World Music/CRASHarts at (617) 876-4275 or buy online at www.worldmusic.org..
Led by Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and Grammy-winning jazz superstar bassist-composer Dave Holland, CrossCurrents showcases the long and vibrant relationship between jazz and Indian classical music, both of which have improvisation as a core tenet. The international supergroup also features Bollywood star vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, guitarist Sanjay Divecha, jazz pianist Louiz Banks, saxophonist Chris Potter, and drummer Gino Banks.
A classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order, Zakir Hussain is well-known for his constant explorations of music from around the world. His latest ensemble, CrossCurrents, attempts to portray all directions of inspiration between the idioms of jazz and Indian music. The great bassist Dave Holland, a player with one of the most distinguished careers in jazz, brings his singular vision to the group. The ensemble pays tribute to pioneering musicians and composers on opposite sides of the world who built a bridge which could be traversed in both directions.
Hussain says of CrossCurrents: “The influence of Indian classical music on jazz is widely known. Less known, however, is the influence of jazz on the popular music of India. Jazz first came to India by way of the Hollywood musicals of the 1930s and ’40s and quickly influenced the music of India’s burgeoning film industry. The improvisational nature of jazz was familiar to Indian composers and musicians, who found a way to incorporate jazz harmonies and chord progressions into their work. As a few decades passed and as the West was enjoying the inspiration of Indian classical music, certain musicians came to influence popular music in India in a big way. Among these are jazz pianist Louiz Banks, jazz guitarist Sanjay Divecha, and superstar composer/vocalist Shankar Mahadevan.”
Zakir Hussain, tabla
Zakir Hussain is one of the most influential percussionists in modern music, building a musical bridge between East and West and bringing the rhythmic sophistication of Indian classical music into a diverse array of artistic settings. Appreciated as both a world-class tabla virtuoso and one of India’s reigning cultural ambassadors, Hussain’s numerous historical collaborations have left a profound and lasting impact on today’s global music. Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Hussain’s contribution has been unique, with many historic and groundbreaking collaborations, including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar in the early 1970’s; the Diga Rhythm Band; and the Grammy Award−winning Planet Drum with Mickey Hart. Hussain has recorded and performed with artists as diverse as George Harrison, Yo Yo Ma, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Bela Fleck, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock, and many others.
Dave Holland, bass
Over the course of a nearly five-decade career, bassist/composer Dave Holland has exemplified the evolutionary process in musical form, reinventing his concept and approach with each new project while constantly honing his instantly identifiable voice. Since his professional debut in the mid-1960s with Miles Davis’s legendary Bitches Brew band, Holland has been heard in a remarkable number of different contexts. He collaborated with Spanish guitar legend Pepe Habichuela, accompanied the great vocalist Betty Carter in her last years, forged a new sound with the pioneering avant-garde quartet Circle alongside Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, and Barry Altschul, stood alongside legends like Stan Getz, Hank Jones, Roy Haynes, and Sam Rivers, and provided early opportunities to now leading players like Chris Potter, Kevin and Robin Eubanks, and Steve Coleman. Dave Holland has been at the forefront of jazz in many of its forms since his earliest days. He leads a Grammy-winning big band, an acclaimed quintet, and the Overtone quartet. He is also part of a duo with Kenny Barron and has released a number of important solo recordings.
Chris Potter, saxophone
A world-class soloist, accomplished composer, and formidable bandleader, saxophonist Chris Potter has emerged as a leading light of his generation. DownBeat called him “One of the most studied (and copied) saxophonists on the planet” while JazzTimes identified him as “a figure of international renown.” Jazz sax elder-statesman Dave Liebman called him simply, “one of the best musicians around,” a sentiment shared by the readers of DownBeat in voting him second only to tenor sax great Sonny Rollins in the magazine’s 2008 Readers Poll. Potter’s impressive discography includes 15 albums as a leader and sideman appearances on over 100 albums. He was nominated for a Grammy for his solo work on “In Vogue,” a track from Joanne Brackeen’s 1999 album Pink Elephant Magic, and was prominently featured on Steely Dan’s Grammy-winning album from 2000, Two Against Nature. He has performed or recorded with many of the leading names in jazz, such as Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, John Scofield, the Mingus Big Band, Jim Hall, Paul Motian, Dave Douglas, Ray Brown, and many others. His most recent recording, Ultrahang, is the culmination of five years’ work with his Underground quartet with Adam Rogers on guitar, Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes, and Nate Smith on drums. His penchant for risk taking and genre bending make him ideal for CrossCurrents.
Shankar Mahadevan, vocals
Shankar Mahadevan is among the greatest Indian vocalists alive, having risen to fame in Mumbai’s fabled Bollywood film industry as a composer, playback singer, and member of the famed Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy composing team. He sang from his earliest days, but then diverted into a career as a software engineer. In 1998, he released his first album, Breathless (so named because the title song was written as though it was to be sung in one breath). He gained the attention of Bollywood and soon became the singing voice of every Tamil hero. He won the first of his many awards for his film music with a collaboration with legendary director A.R. Rahman and then won several National Film Awards. Once he found his own compositional voice, he became the leading composer in Indian film music, selling millions of records every year. In 2012, he was invited by UNESCO and the U.S. State Department to perform at the United Nations for the finale of the International Jazz Festival. He previously worked with Zakir Hussain as the vocalist for Remember Shakti.
Louiz Banks, keyboards
Louiz Banks has earned the nickname the “Godfather of Indian Jazz.” His commitment and devotion to jazz convinced his father to change his son’s name to Louis in honor of the greatest of jazz trumpet players, Louis Armstrong. Banks began playing music in his homeland of Nepal, but his career accelerated when he settled in Mumbai, where his night club performances popularized the genre. His work (co-producer, arranger, and pianist) on Miles from India brought him great recognition in America and received a Grammy nomination. In the same year, he was also the featured keyboardist on John McLaughlin’s Grammy-nominated album, Floating Point.
Sanjay Divecha, guitar
Sanjay Divecha’s entire history has seen him pursue a vision of world community as expressed through music, which is in perfect accord with the implicit principles of CrossCurrents. Born in Mumbai, he began his formal musical studies with five years of traditional sitar. At the same time, he was listening to Western folk, blues, jazz, and rock, and eventually settled on the guitar as his primary instrument. Largely self-taught, he expanded his horizons in 1987 by studying in America at the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, where he worked with Scott Henderson, Joe Diorio, and Robben Ford. Over the next 15 years in Los Angeles, he recorded and toured with the likes of Angelique Kidjo and Carlos Santana, among many others. He returned to India in 2003 to reconnect with his cultural roots and absorbed Indian folk music from both North (Hindustani) and South (Carnatic) traditions. His album Full Circle, released in 2008, captures that journey.
Gino Banks, drums
Gino Banks is Louiz’s son, and it is clear that the adventurous spirit of world music exploration is in his DNA. He has played with classical greats like Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pandit Vikku Vinayakram, Ustad Sabir Khan, and many others. He is a stalwart in the Bollywood Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy film music world. He works regularly with fusion groups like Niladri Kumar’s Sitar Funk, Rakesh Chaurasia’s RAF, and many others. Rock music is in his world, and he has backed many dance groups. One of his best known efforts was taking part in Bob Belden’s Grammy-nominated Miles from India. Gino also teaches, primarily at the True School of Music.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.