Tag Archives: Sarathy Korwar

The Best Jazz on Bandcamp: November 2018

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The year is drawing to a close, which means many of you are in the midst of frantically wrapping up your holiday season tasks. I feel for you. And it’s in that spirit of compassion that I bring to you one more thing for your to-do list: Ten jazz albums you definitely need to hear. Some of this music is the best you’ll hear all year. So put gift buying off just a little longer; sit down and listen to all of this beautiful music.

View the Best Jazz on Bandcamp archives.

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On a New LP, Sarathy Korwar Explores the Influence of Indian Music on Spiritual Jazz

Sarathy Korwar

Photos by Fabric Bourgelle

“Being Indian, and having grown up in India and playing Indian classical music, I have a weird relationship with the songs of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders,” says percussionist and composer Sarathy Korwar. “They’re people who I admire, but at the same time, their work became representative of an entire culture of music. In truth, it was not at all representative of it, but because that was the only access for people in the West, it became the way that Indian music was heard.” It’s a disparity Korwar seeks to correct with his new record, My East Is Your West, which features live covers of songs made popular by Coltrane, Sanders, Joe Henderson, and more.

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Following the Hippie Trail: How Psychedelia Crept Onto the Dancefloor

Kasra V

Album cover by Kasra V

For many Western tourists, the 1960s pilgrimage known as The Hippie Trail—which stretched through Turkey, via Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal and ended in southern India—offered an unfiltered form of psychedelia with its religions and sights and smells that couldn’t be found easily in the squats of London or an LSD-fueled pilgrimage through America’s highways. Some went in search of spiritual wisdom and new ways of thinking, or sought solace in the Himalayas while the world’s eyes were on Vietnam. Others wanted to simply emulate their idols, influenced by The Beatles’ adoption of Shamanism or Jimi Hendrix’s journeys to Nepal. And while the influence of the trail can be heard the music of those icons—think “Within You Without You”—its spiritual and carnal roots remain today in the many incarnations of dance music, traditional or 21st Century, that continue to vibrate through its streets long after the hippies stopped walking them.
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Sarathy Korwar Fuels Improv Jazz with Field Recordings

Sarathy Korwar
Sarathy Korwar. Photo by Fabrice Bourgelle
“I think [the Sidis] feel rooted because of the things they do everyday, things that we as a culture look at as being very banal.” —Sarathy Korwar

One mild day in January 2015, the London-based percussionist and composer Sarathy Korwar arrived in the central Indian town of Ratanpur with an idea that was as ambitious as it was uncertain. Accompanied by his close friend, the photographer Nikhil Roshan, Korwar intended to collect field recordings of a local ensemble called the Sidi Troupe of Ratanpur, using only a handheld Zoom H5 audio recorder. But that was just the first half of his loose plan: next, he would incorporate those recordings into a series of largely improvised sessions with friends from the London jazz community.

The result of these efforts, Day to Day, which Korwar created with support from the Steve Reid Foundation and the mentorship of artists like Four Tet and the longstanding tastemaker Gilles Peterson, rises above the novelty of “world music crossover” status by exploring what it means to be in two places at once with elegance, raw power and a sufficient dose of mystery.

The trip to Ratanpur wasn’t Korwar’s first foray into experimental composition; his earlier work, centered around the Indian tabla, pushed the boundaries of traditionalism. “Waiting For First Contact” was created by running a tabla through digital effects processing, and on “Long Distance Relationship,” Korwar translated tabla rhythms to a Western drum kit. When performed live, he was accompanied by a tap dancer; on the wall behind them, a Facebook feed flashed eerily. Those projects, along with Korwar’s session work, left him yearning for something more. “I needed a project of my own that I could really invest myself in emotionally [and] completely,” he says.

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