Sameer Gupta will offer a new direction in musical possibilities with his Motéma Music debut, “NAMASKAR,” an organic creative musical experience which bridges classical Indian melodies and modern American jazz. Gupta’s working band – which includes Motéma label-mate Marc Cary (piano, laptop); Arun Ramamurthy (violin); Neel Murgai (sitar); and Rashaan Carter (bass) – is a breath of fresh air in the world of global fusion: fusing classic songs from the traditions of Indian Raga music, Bollywood and American jazz, with arrangements that unite these songs into one distinctive sound, drawn from experiences that reflect the musicality of these international artists with passion, intelligence and beauty.
Produced by Gupta and Cary, Namaskar’s cast of players and innovative compositions combine to create a sonic journey across a range of musical traditions and eras. The ethereal sounding sarangi of Pt. Pandit Ramesh Mishra and the masterful tabla of Pt. Anindo Chatterjee hearken back to the golden years of romantic thumris, while Gupta’s subtle grooves and Cary’s vibrant performance on keyboards provide a stirring sense of modernity. Also contributing to the musical melange are Srinivas Reddy on sitar, David Ewell on acoustic bass, Prasant Radhakrishnan on carnatic sax, David Boyce on sax, bass clarinet, Black Edgar’s Musicbox, and Efx, and Charith Premawardanan on viola.
Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drumset, and Indian classical music on tabla. Though his first few years were spent under the guidance of Ustad Zakir Hussain, his own interests and love of tabla brought him to the great tabla maestro Pt Anindo Chatterjee, of whom he is now a dedicated disciple.
After graduating with a music performance BA, Gupta worked and taught in the Bay Area for 10 years as a jazz drummer, and later also as a classical Indian tabla player. Today he lives in NYC’s Harlem, and is actively involved in performing and teaching through Carnegie Hall’s Global Encounters program on the music of India. Gupta has held workshops on Indian music and cross over drumming styles, at The Jazzschool in Berkeley and Berklee College of Music in Boston. His influences range from Elvin Jones and Tony Williams to Ustad Allah Rakha and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee. He has had the pleasure to play with many great musicians including Marc Cary, Wallace Roney, Prasant Radhakrishnan, Pandit Chitresh Das, Jason Samuels Smith, Pandit Ramesh Mishra, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, Grachan Moncur III, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Prince Lasha, Sonny Simmons, Vijay Iyer, Marcus Shelby and Srinivas Reddy.
Gupta continues to build his career by combining traditional and modern improvisational styles drawing from his dual Indian and American heritage, and has already established himself as an original musical voice in jazz, world, and fusion music. From his early percussion studies in Tokyo, Japan in the mid 80s, he has consistently placed himself in many challenging musical environments. From bebop to avant-garde jazz, and European classical percussion to North Indian classical tabla, Gupta continues to compose and perform music from a true multi-cultural perspective that now bridges several continents. Gupta’s drumming, tabla and compositional work with Cary’s Focus trio over the past 5 years has brought international awareness of his talents via festival performances across the country and in Europe as amply evidenced on recent live releases Focus Trio Live 2008 &2009 on which Gupta served as a producer as well as drummer.
In celebration of this release, Sameer will be performing the music from Namaskar on October 19th, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. at Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall a collaborative presentation of the esteemed Neighborhood Concert Series, presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute and the Harlem Stage Family Series. Gupta will also be teaching throughout the fall for Carnegie Hall’s Global Encounters program. The Music of India program is a chance for roughly 1100 high school students from all over the New York and tri-state area to engage with Indian Classical Music in the classroom. The Music of India program concludes with a formal concert in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in early December.
For 35 years, Carnegie Hall has brought free concerts for audiences of all ages to neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs of New York City. These performances-presented in collaboration with museums, colleges, libraries, community centers, churches, and other cultural organizations-feature music reflecting the diverse sounds of the city and Carnegie Hall’s quality programming, including classical, jazz, world music, and more.