Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, Esperanza Spalding Quartet On JazzSet

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Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition i

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: (L-R) Dan Weiss, Rez Abbasi, Mahanthappa. Wiqan Ang hide caption

toggle caption Wiqan Ang
Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: (L-R) Dan Weiss, Rez Abbasi, Mahanthappa.

Wiqan Ang
Esperanza Spalding i

Esperanza Spalding. Wiqan Ang hide caption

toggle caption Wiqan Ang
Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding.

Wiqan Ang

Set Lists

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition:

  • Apti
  • Adana
  • IIT

Esperanza Spalding Quartet:

  • I Know You Know
  • Sunlight
  • Wild Is the Wind
  • Crayola

If the sky hadn't been so bright in Newport, R.I., we would see that this week's JazzSet artists are new stars, moving up. The 57th annual DownBeat Critics Poll in July 2009 named Rudresh Mahanthappa and Esperanza Spalding the No. 1 Rising Stars on alto sax and acoustic bass, respectively. A few weeks later they played George Wein's CareFusion Jazz Festival 55 — aka the Newport Jazz Festival — now re-mixed and sampled on JazzSet.

Besides winning on alto, Mahanthappa ranked first as Rising Jazz Artist, and made the lists in Composition and Best Album for 2008's Kinsmen. At Newport, his music comes from a different band, the Indo-Pak Coalition, and its debut album, Apti.

Mahanthappa — born in Boulder, Colo., to an Indian-American family — learned jazz sax in high school, continued through Berklee College of Music in Boston (also Spalding's alma mater) and has a degree in jazz composition from DePaul University in Chicago. Steeped in jazz, Mahanthappa later traveled to India to study Carnatic music. In The New Yorker, Gary Giddins likened Rudresh's projects to an earlier jazz-world fusion: "Much as Dizzy Gillespie had wedded jazz chord changes to Cuban rhythms in the 1940s, Mahanthappa wrote music that blended Western harmony with South Indian traditions, searching for a style in which American and Indian players might find a common ground without sacrificing their respective improvisational approach."

The Indo-Pak Coalition concentrates that intent on a trio –- saxophone, guitar and tabla drums –- with three selections on JazzSet. From the first entrance, Rudresh's saxophone conveys confidence and, in Giddins' word, elation.

Born in Portland, Ore., Esperanza Spalding began violin lessons at age five. At 15, she auditioned on bass for Berklee College of Music and received a scholarship on the spot. In her 26th year, Esperanza has performed at the White House twice, and at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo.

Spalding loves controlling a vocal line on top, a bass line below, and the counterpoint in between them. She isn't a fan of the word "scat," as in scat singing, and even though she plays a jazz instrument, she doesn't necessarily call her music jazz. Her joy is in communicating with an audience. Three of her four songs here are originals.


Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition: Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto sax; Rez Abbasi, guitar; Dan Weiss, percussion.

Esperanza Spalding Quartet: Esperanza Spalding, voice and bass; Leonardo Genovese, piano/keyboards; Ricardo Vogt, guitar; Otis Brown III, drums.

Credits: For Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, Surround Sound mix by Antonio Oliart, WGBH, Boston. For Esperanza Spalding Quartet, Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos of JazzSet, recording by Steve Remote of Aurasonic Ltd.



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