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Rudresh Mahanthappa to Perform in Chicago

Posted by litdaily on September 17, 2010

Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet with Craig Taborn (piano), François Moutin (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums) performs at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago with multiple performances, September 23-26, 2010. South Asian American alto saxophonist Mahanthappa’s jazz is inflected by Carnatic music of South India…more>>

Over the years, critics have projected their own racial assumptions on to Mahanthappa’s music. In this 2008 interview that Rochester’s City Newspaper did with the jazz artist, Saby Reyes-Kulkarni suggests that “Unsurprisingly, his work arises largely out of the persistent sense of displacement so common to the children of immigrants.” In contrast, Gary Giddins’s review of Mahanthappa’s breakthrough album “Kinsmen” in The New Yorker argues that we should be wary of pigeonholing Mahanthappa’s music as he has worked to precisely elude ethnic assumptions, such as those made in the City Newspaper interview. Giddins writes that Mahanthappa is “actually as American as apple pie, or Barack Obama.” Mahanthappa is not so naïve as to think that he or his art can transcend race but he does want to engage with race on his own terms without letting it become a constraining label. He does not disavow his Indian ancestry, but at the same time his music sensibilities are not exclusively devoted to the “Indian-jazz-hybrid-fusion” label.


One Response to “Rudresh Mahanthappa to Perform in Chicago”

  1. Actually, rather than project my own racial assumptions on Mahanthappa’s music, my assessments were based entirely on comments Mahanthappa made himself about growing up in Colorado. In our interview, Mahanthappa also made points that lend themselves to Giddins’ interpretations. His relationship with Indian music and identity is a complex one and, though the author of this post brings up fair point (that music journalists might tend to harp on that too much in a search for an “angle”), perhaps the author is projecting her/his own desire to avoid projecting. Unfortunately, the link to the piece is no longer live or I’d review it and go over it point for point.

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