The acclaimed jazz and world-music ensemble Natraj, seamlessly melds the classical music of India, traditional music from West Africa and contemporary jazz to create its own unique and infectious style. Hard-driving African grooves and graceful Indian ragas meet in the band's expansive conception and disciplined ensemble playing.
Saxophonist and composer Phil Scarff "glides between structured Indian melodic development and characteristic jazz phrasing, bringing the two improvisational styles together with surprising ease, a lively, emotive soloist," declares Banning Eyre in The Boston Phoenix. Phil has traveled to India for extensive study with masters of Hindustani classical music and has studied and performed the intricate polyrhythms of West Africa. His musical roots are in jazz and performs with creative jazz ensembles including the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz Composers Alliance and the Sandy Prager Quartet.
Mat Maneri on violin and viola, has delved deeply into the world of microtonal music and brings his unique perspective to Natraj. Mat has performed with jazz and avant-garde greats Cecil McBee, Bern Nix, Bob Moses, Perry Robinson and Ed Schuller. His appearance with Paul Bley was "the highlight of the festival" (Montreal Gazette) in the Montreal Jazz Festival.
"Michael Rivard, one of the most versatile and sought after bassists in Boston, plays upright with a fat, warm solidity that evokes Mingus... swings and grooves... nimbly athletic..." (The Boston Phoenix). Rivard has shared the stage with the likes of Wild Man Fischer, Cab Calloway, Bob Moses, Steve Forbert, Patti Larkin and Moe Tucker (of Velvet Underground).
On tabla and percussion is the world class percussionist, Jerry Leake. Having studied tabla with Indian classical artists, including sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and George Ruckert, he is featured on releases with Sandy Prager, the Ken Schaphorst Big Band and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra. Jerry has written and published five widely used texts on Indian, African and Latin American percussion.
Multipercussionist Bertram Lehmann brings his broad range of jazz and world-music experience to Natraj. He has performed with jazz greats Kenny Werner, Danilo Perez, Claudio Roditi, George Garzone, Romero Lubambo and Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, as well as the Afro-Cuban group Mango Blue. Bertram has appeared in festivals, clubs and concerts in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Ecuador, Mexico, India and Israel. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, he has also gamered awards from Down Beat and Jazziz magazines.
Song of the Swan
In its new release, Song of the Swan, Natraj adeptly blends contemplative raga improvisation, high-energy African- and Indian-based grooves, complex odd meters and polyrhythms, and edgy contemporary jazz. Natraj brings unparalleled depth to this project, with its members' formidable jazz chops informed by years of study and performance of Indian and West African musics, collaborations with many Indian and West African masters, and years of honing their fusion artistry together.
"A true fusion of jazz and world musics... A compelling blend of Indian, African, and Jazz musics... Excellent tunes... It all works quite beautifully." - Cadence Magazine
"The future of jazz... The future of world music." - Times of India
Special guest Prasanna is the top-most performer of South Indian classical music on electric guitar and is a force at the cutting edge of fusing jazz with Western and Indian classical musics. "A highly accomplished plectorist and true world-music visionary." – Jazziz.
"Natraj blends complex tempos and traditions with graceful, unforced virtuosity... a hypnotic, symbiotic tapestry. Fusion is rarely this deep and exotic yet accessibleŠ discover a new world here."
-The Boston Globe
"We heard the future of jazz... we heard the future of world music... a spellbinding tapestry... a jazz hybrid of celebration and reflection."
-The Times of India
Meet Me Anywhere
"Intoxicating Indian influences and entrancing African rhythms."
"Watch out for this energetic and wildly intelligent ensemble... formidable virtuosos."
-Mid-Day, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India
"These 10 hands speak with one voice in a way that falls somewhere between Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Vishnu. A Natraj set is guaranteed to be a magical musical tour"
The Goat Also Gallops
"successfully fused African grooves with romantic Indian ragas... exotic... captivating..."
-Graphic Showbiz, Accra, Ghana
"...fusion that encompasses jazz, African and... Indian music, where Phil Scarff and his soprano saxophone soar on a current that is going to embrace the entire world, conveying an exotic atmosphere where depth is not an empty word."
-Jazz Notes, Lyon, France