South Indian Carnatic classical music is one of the oldest living traditions available to the world's music lovers today. I believe only Japanese Gagaku goes back further. In the world of Carnatic practice, "living" is the key. It does not stand still, as witnessed by such things as the cross-fertilization realized in combined Carnatic-Hindustani compositions and improvisations, various interactions with other musics, and the incorporation of non-traditional instruments into performance practice.
For example, there's the alto saxophone, as played by Prasant Radhakrishnan. A recital spotlighting his prowess can be had on East Facing (Lotus Music), featuring Radhakrishnan and a full Carnatic ensemble. Now I am not by any means an expert on the highly complicated, incredibly rich Indian classical world, other than a little study of it and a lifetime of rewarding listening. But I must say I am impressed with his facility and inventive ornamentation. He gets a tone like no western jazz saxophonist I've heard. It's no doubt in part a product of phrasing in the Carnatic idiom; it also comes out of Radhakrishnan's formidable musical artistry and a very personal use of breath control, which is most evident on this recording. The supporting musicians are all quite good and Prasant wisely provides a program of short compositions and ragams for this initial outing.
Anyone interested in South Indian classical and/or alto sax virtuosity is encouraged to listen to this one. You can get it directly from www.prasantmusic.com.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Carnatic Alto Sax from Radhakrishnan
Posted by Grego Applegate Edwards at 5:48 AM
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