Indo-Pak Coalition

Take a deep breath. This is not a political post. It’s another post about music.

Indo-Pak Coalition is a current trio project that includes Rudresh Mahanthappa on saxophone, Rez Abbasi on guitar, and Dan Weiss on tabla. It’s just one of a number of fascinating, adventurous collaborations taking place on the creative-music scene these days. Along with his longtime collaborator, fellow-desi and piano genius Vijay Iyer, Rudresh is a regular on this scene and his work, whether in straight-ahead jazz or cross-genre collaborations, never fails to fascinate. He’s got a wonderful tone and attack that place him in the Coltrane legacy, and he’s done very thoughtful work that injects classical Indian concepts and themes into forward-looking contemporary jazz. Read more about him here, and about Pakistani-American guitarist Abbasi here.

Indo-Pak’s new suite “Apti” premieres tomorrow night, 5/31, at Joe’s Pub in NYC, and I encourage local Mutineers to join me there.

About the new project, Rudresh says this:

Mahanthappa is excited about his upcoming gig with the Indo-Pak Coalition: “It has this weird twist to it because, okay, you have this trio and the two brown guys are playing western instruments and the white guy’s playing an Indian instrument! [laughs] So it’s kind of funny and it’s interesting because Dan is an amazing drummer, but he’s also Samir Chatterjee’s most prized student; he’s a really monstrous tabla player, but he came out playing the tabla after playing drumset. And here we [Mahanthappa and Abbasi] are: we play these western instruments. So our perspectives are very different. It’s been really great to work with that group because we can talk about everything in very Indian terms—whether it’s Karnatic or Hindustani or whatever—and then we can turn around and talk about it in totally Western terms.”

This promises to be a great show. I hope to see you there!

8 thoughts on “Indo-Pak Coalition

  1. Word, bro.

    All things being equal, I’ll be there. I’m a fan of Rudresh’s work (I have his “Mother Tongue” from 2004). He and Vijay (and “genius” is the right word for this cat- seen him in four coruscating concerts, and there’s no reason whatsoever to revise that opinion) are a breathtaking combination. Not much that’s explicitly Indian in their playing (though Indo-Pak Coalition sounds like it’ll be different) but it’s such informed playing, taking cues willy-nilly from bop, grunge, minimalism, hip-hop and carnatic music. I think the Indian influence in Vijay is more structural- he’s talked about bringing in some of the complex time-modes and phases of ragas into his compositions (to my ears, there’s the spirit of Radiohead and Philip Glass in there as well though, naturally, musicians wince at comparisons).

    In Rudresh’s case, the India thing is tonal and phrasal rather than structural- his reedy tone really does evoke South Indian instrumental music, especially the carnatic stuff. It’s an amazing thing that these two found each other. Two of the most brilliant (and musically uncompromising) young jazz musicians in America, and both happen to be desi.

    I do think your Coltrane comparison for Rudresh, harmonically speaking, is dead on. It is not relaxing music. But, man, you feel more present to your world after hearing it.

    I’ll try to be there tomorrow; thanks for the heads up.

  2. preach, kobayashi, preach! your distinction is right on; vijay does channel the indian influences in a more structural way, in keeping with his overall approach, which is very geometric. what’s fantastic about vijay’s sound is that he manages to work with this very tight concern for structure and at the same time open up to so much emotion. he’s technical without being dry or obtuse. great stuff.

  3. Sounds great but I still maintain the best Indo-Pak coalition was the old “Indo-Pak Pizza” in Jackson Heights

  4. I would love love love love to have been able to go this show, but I’m going to miss it. That’s horrible. I’ve been wanting to see Vijay for a while now!

  5. Sanjay,

    Vijay won’t be in this particular show. It’s Rudresh’s band (with Rez and Dan). But Vijay and Rudresh are playing in New York (if memory serves me right) on July 7 or thereabouts. Check either of their websites to confirm.

    Another great thing to look out for is veteran saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s new setup (featuring master tabla-player Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland) who are billed to play Carnegie Hall in late June. I just picked up the album (called Sangam) and it’s out there, in a beautiful way. Spiritually intense jazz, with a strong influence of pentatonic modes.

  6. It’s refreshing and very soul nourishing when a band like Indo-Pak Coalition mixes western and eastern sounds with skill and structure in a way which makes sense and not just as filler or a distinguishing feature. Looking forward to their new songs! A Dan Weiss fan.