Venue: Highline Ballroom (NY) Date: June 27, 2012.
Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi
Is jazz “really” dead? In 1975, when an angry, bitter and maybe exaggerating Miles Davis declared “Jazz is dead (it’s) the music of a museum,” I felt the same — especially when Fusion jazz and later Smooth jazz became very popular and very commercial, thus changing jazz into elevator and background music. Jazz became music that was “easy” to listen to and very accessible. Bored of that kind of music my interest went to American free jazz and to international jazz, such as European, Asian, African and Latin jazz.
As a jazz lover, I can say that this music has become stagnant, especially over the last twenty years. There’s no shortage of talented musicians out there, but jazz in America has gone decades without producing an artist capable of reinventing the genre the way Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, my mentor Ornette Coleman and many others did.
Artist: Tirtha (Vijay Iyer, Prasanna and Nitin Mitta) Title: Tirtha Label: ACT Music + Vision Cat.#: ACT 2011 Genre: Nu Indian Jazz (?)
Reviewed by Matthew Rentz
Tirtha is a Sanskrit word that represents a crossable shallow river or stream and a place of pilgrimage. That is exactly what the US based ensemble of the same name provides the listener on their self-titled debut album, a journey where the traveller emerges having experienced a spiritual transformation.
On April 2nd, 2011, Tirtha performed at the Asia Society in Manhattan to promote the release of their new self titled album, Tirtha. The trio consists of Indian musicians including American born pianist- composer Vijay Iyer, guitarist-composer Prasanna from South India, and classically trained tabla player Nitin Mitta, also Indian born. The performance, which was to precede an intense two-week tour of Europe, was enthusiastically received by a full house of concertgoers.
Inspired by Ornette Coleman’s Primetime, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Moroccan Gnawa music, and Stanley Turrentine, we will be playing my original compositions, featuring improvisations by some of NYC’s most creative groove players. Avram’s Electric Kool-Aid featuring: Kenny Wessel (Guitar), Dave Phelps (Guitar), Chris Eddleton (Drums), Todd Isler (Percussion), Stuart Popejoy (Electric Bass) and Avram Fefer (Saxes and Composition).