Guitarist Ross Hammond and vocalist Jay Nair presents Songs of Universal Peace Sunday afternoon at Maybeck Recital Hall
Jay Nair, a mild-mannered civil servant who works as a systems analyst for the state of California, was walking through downtown Sacramento minding his own business a couple years back when his ear caught a sound that reminded him of home. Born and raised in the Southern Indian state of Kerala, he was passing by the popular brunch spot Weatherstone when he heard what he thought might be a sitar. Circling back to double check, Nair realized that the sound emanated from Ross Hammonds 12-string guitar.
I spent the next three minutes listening to him, and then it wasnt the sitar-like sliding notes that captivated me anymore but his music, says Nair, explaining the origins of their collaboration. Blending Hammonds rootsy approach to jazz, folk and blues with Nairs Carnatic vocals, they released the singular duo album Songs of Universal Peacein 2018. Theyve been performing together ever since, and make their Maybeck Recital Hall debut Sunday afternoon.
Listening to him play that morning some ragas came to me, Nair says. I went home and recorded them on my iPhone and shared them with him. Thats where everything started.
While hes never formally studied Indian classical music, Hammond has collaborated with several Indian and Indian-American percussionists over the years. He was more than open to seeing what might develop with Nair, inviting him stop by his weekly Luna Caf gig. He came and sat in and, dude, people were crying, Hammond says. When Jay sings and gets into his devotional music, its a really powerful spiritual thing. It hits me. After that I said we should probably start a project. You dont find guys singing Carnatic music like that all the time.
If Hammonds name sounds familiar its probably because he was a close confederate of Berkeley drummer Scott Amendola for several years. About a decade ago their duo project The Lovely Builders performed widely around the region. In 2016, his duo album with drummer/percussionist Sameer Gupta, Upward(Prescott Records), was hailed by KQED(in a piece I wrote) for its lush, buoyant and expansive sound.
That project was deeply informed by Hammond and Guptas shared experience as jazz musicians. With Nair, Hammond uses his finely honed chops as an improviser to respond and interact with the traditional modes.Ive listened to Indian music since my 20s, he says. Sameer and I play together from a jazz background. Were not doing anything traditional. Im not a raga guy. With Jay, hes singing ancient Sanskrit verses and puts his own melodies to them. Ill ask him What does that song mean? Lets all be beautiful. Fantastic!
Nair studied Carnatic vocals from the age of five to 18 (with a few years on violin too), and started performing at 10. After he went off to college to study engineering he got the chance to explore Hindustani classical tradition of North India. He didnt have much exposure to Western music before he moved to the US at the age of 30.
Over the years hed tried to collaborate with several non-Indian musicians but the attempts quickly foundered. Nair feels he wasnt really ready to meet other musicians on equal ground. With its very deep history of 3,000 years, a student of Indian music has a danger of believing that is what music is, and anything that breaks the rules is not music, he says. I had a phase where I thought that music means it has to be this and that. Maybe that contributed to those collaborations not flourishing. And non-Indian musicians can be a little intimidated with the vastness of Indian music. So those attempts didnt go anywhere.
Hammond has been a pivotal figure on the Sacramento music scene for the past two decades, patiently building festivals and concert series that showcase local players alongside artists from outside the area. By the time Nair encountered him that morning at Weatherstone in 2017 his musical perspective had evolved. Rather than obeying a set of rules, music served a larger purpose aimed at the enlightenment of the human mind, he says. I was open to learning from people who are different. Ross is a master of what hes doing, and I was looking to learn.
With the civil war in Syria raging and conflict dominating the news, Nair was already focusing on Shanti peace mantras in his spiritual practice as a Buddhist. Hed set a Sanskrit verse to a raga and bring the piece to Hammond. It is accompaniment, but almost two soloist working around the same melody at the same time, Hammond says.
Ive played with a lot of Indian musicians, and Jay is the guy Ive learned the most from in terms of how you approach structure, he says. He says dont worry about the tala and rhythmic cycle. Were two guys, listen to each other. You have this tonal center, this scale or mode. Dont go out of it. Simple stuff thats so powerful. What were doing is finding a bridge between a traditional American blues and roots music, and combining that with raga.
You may have noticed that Ukraine has been in the news lately. With Ukraines Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia and a proxy war grinding away near the eastern border, the young country with an ancient and extraordinary vocal tradition needs friends outside the region. No ensemble has done more to share Ukrainian culture abroad than DahkaBrahka, the avant-folk quartet that returns to Freight & Salvage on Oct. 8-9. Avant garde folk songs might sound like an oxymoron, but with DakhaBrakha theres no contradiction between roots music from the Ukrainian countryside and art music from Kievs experimental theater scene. Creating haunting polyphonic vocal harmonies while accompanying themselves on cellos, hurdy gurdy, piano, and sundry percussion implements, the multi-instrumentalistsOlena Tsybulska, Irnya Kovalenko and Nina Harenetsha founded the band in 2004 and were quickly joined by Marko Halanevych on vocals, tabla, didgeridoo, accordion, and trombone. Theyve acquired their international menagerie of instruments during their world travels, adding new sonic facets to the traditional songs theyve been immersed in since birth. The fact that the three women often perform in towering black fur hats and white wedding dresses cribbed from a production of Shakespeares Richard IIIadds to the musics decidedly otherworldly feel.
Berkeleyside relies on reader support so we can remain free to read for everyone in Berkeley. Become a member and be part of the future of independent, local journalism.
BECOME A MEMBER TODAY
Read the original here:
- Kanye West plans to evangelize Americas youth with music: No weapon formed against me shall prosper - The Christian Post - November 19th, 2019
- The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: Baby of the House - Vulture - November 19th, 2019
- I Live in Australia, Make $74K A Year & Spent $344.20 On My Wellness Routine This Week - Refinery29 - November 19th, 2019
- Who Was the Buddha? - Lion's Roar - November 19th, 2019
- MOVIE REVIEW: Scorsese, De Niro and Pesci at their best in 'The Irishman' - Gwinnettdailypost.com - November 19th, 2019
- The Funeral Traditions of Different Culture and Religion - Agence de presse D.I.A. - November 19th, 2019
- Children in Need events across Gwent - South Wales Argus - November 19th, 2019
- With Kartarpur, Pakistan says: Our arms are always open for you whenever you visit - Gulf News - November 19th, 2019
- The Rights Judeo-Christian Fixation - The New Republic - November 19th, 2019
- The World-Soul, Natura and Mother Earth - Patheos - November 19th, 2019
- Seattle City Council election results set the stage for transformative change - Real Change News - November 19th, 2019
- Dispatches #2 and #3 from Doc NYC: Mr. Toilet: The World's #2 Man and We Believe in Dinosaurs - Bright Lights Film Journal - November 19th, 2019
- Lights of Faith: Candles Keep Vigil, Become Votive Offerings - National Catholic Register - November 19th, 2019
- Meaningful Conversations: Spiritual But Not Religious? - UAFS News - November 11th, 2019
- Kanye Wests Sunday Service at the Forum 11/10 - mxdwn.com - November 11th, 2019
- Guiding Light: Back to the Heart - Free Press Journal - November 11th, 2019
- Federal judge halts Texas execution of Patrick Murphy - The Texas Tribune - November 11th, 2019
- 11.11 Wish And Its Meaning: Why is The Time 11:11 So Auspicious Numerologically? Does 11/11 Wish Come True - LatestLY - November 11th, 2019
- Nine German artists talk about their work for season II of bangaloREsidency 2019 - The Hindu - November 11th, 2019
- Is Quieting the Mind the Ultimate Escape? I Went to Nepal to Find Out - Travel+Leisure - November 11th, 2019
- Meet the Kung Fu Nuns of Nepal - The New York Times - November 11th, 2019
- People welcome 'Cavalcade of Universal Oneness' with open arms - Daily Pioneer - November 11th, 2019
- Is coffee the new alcohol? - Oaklandpostonline - November 11th, 2019
- The Spec-Ops Guys Behind The App Transforming Military Fitness - menshealth.com - November 11th, 2019
- The Cold War between the Medium and the Message: Western Modernism vs. Socialist Realism - Journal #104 November 2019 - E-Flux - November 11th, 2019
- 1 dead, 1 hospitalized after gunmen shot both in the back of the head during apparent robbery - Texas Breaking News - November 11th, 2019
- 10 Bizarre Festivals in Asia You Need to Experience | TheTravel - TheTravel - October 24th, 2019
- President has first ever smart thought; calls for own impeachment - Los Angeles Loyolan - October 24th, 2019
- Hey, John MacArthur. You have a culture. It's called white (Christian) patriarchy. - Patheos - October 24th, 2019
- Tagore and Caste - The Statesman - October 24th, 2019
- One Cure for Malnutrition of the Soul - The New York Times - October 24th, 2019
- 'The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself & Challenged the Modern World to Reform' Book Review - National Review - October 24th, 2019
- Who is Kalki Bhagwan Who Once Predicted Death of Organised Religions and Now Faces I-T Heat? - News18 - October 24th, 2019
- Astrology in the Age of Uncertainty - The New Yorker - October 24th, 2019
- 'To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit': Blake's Visionary Imagination - The New York Review of Books - October 24th, 2019
- The Great Flood and What It Tells Us - The Epoch Times - October 24th, 2019
- Neuroscience Culture and the Sins of Vaping - The American Interest - October 24th, 2019
- How Africans held off German colonialists with spears and arrows for two years during the Maji Maji rebellion - Face2Face Africa - October 24th, 2019
- The Eurozone Civil War Has Several Bay Of PIGS Moments - Seeking Alpha - October 24th, 2019
- Meditation is a potent stress reliever and more - CapeGazette.com - October 24th, 2019
- Marianne Williamson and the religion of "spirituality" - Salon - October 15th, 2019
- Evolution of the guru principle - Economic Times - October 15th, 2019
- Is Vanda Boone's Murder Connected To Nancy Moyer's Disappearance? | Searching For - Oxygen - October 15th, 2019
- What's all the buzz about? Montreal woman seeks to demystify ayahuasca - Montreal Gazette - October 15th, 2019
- The age of distraction | Opinion - Plattsburgh Press Republican - October 15th, 2019
- Why, 30 years after opening, Aman resorts are still the best in Bali - Telegraph.co.uk - October 15th, 2019
- Rescue changed the lives of firefighter and victim in aftermath of Loma Prieta - San Francisco Chronicle - October 15th, 2019
- Hogarth: Place and Progress - ArtLyst - October 15th, 2019
- 4 Reasons Why Chat-based Learning Can Be a Solution To India's Mass Education Challenges - Entrepreneur - October 15th, 2019
- New opportunities for integration and cooperation: Op-ed - Hurriyet Daily News - October 15th, 2019
- Walking the path of the buddha in a neglected corner of India - GQ India - October 15th, 2019
- Non-Violence Is Not the Be-All and End-All of Buddhas Revolutionary Teachings - The Wire - October 15th, 2019
- The philosophy of the Joker - Fabius Maximus website - October 15th, 2019
- Succession Composer Nicholas Britell Talks Creating the Flava That Was Kendalls Rap - IndieWire - October 15th, 2019
- How to Use Tarot Cards as a Spiritual Guide to Everyday Life - Study Breaks - October 5th, 2019
- Clearly, Fans Thinks Demi Lovatos Heartless Apology Letter Is Just For Sake. Blasting Over A Free T ... - The Inner Sane - October 5th, 2019
- 'I put my head in the guillotine for Osho and I would do it again Why can't I be myself? Why do I have to be enlightened?' - Times of India - October 5th, 2019
- The indefatigable Gandhian Subba Rao: Meeting the Mahatma and other encounters of a lifetime - Times Now - October 5th, 2019
- Hospice of Santa Barbara Honors Its Heroes And Raises $178000 - Noozhawk - October 5th, 2019
- The Eclectic Sheldon Theatre is the Jewel-Box of Red Wing - Music in Minnesota - October 5th, 2019
- Your thoughts on Cardinal Burke's vision of church, the partisan divide, parish shopping and more - National Catholic Reporter - October 5th, 2019
- Art, teaching and skills for Seekers: A conversation with author and BYU professor Anthony Sweat, author of - Deseret News - October 5th, 2019
- 'Walk in China' VR Trilogy - Animation World Network - October 5th, 2019
- 7 Signs That You Are Achieving Spiritual Enlightenment ... - June 1st, 2019
- Enlightenment (spiritual) - Wikipedia - June 1st, 2019
- What Is Spiritual Enlightenment or Spiritual Awakening? - June 1st, 2019
- Sedona Spiritual Inspiration & Healing | Visit Sedona - June 1st, 2019
- Center for Spiritual Enlightenment - CSE Home Page - June 1st, 2019
- atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to ... - May 28th, 2019
- atheism r/atheism - reddit: the front page of the internet - May 28th, 2019
- Atheism | CARM.org - May 28th, 2019
- Atheism - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - May 28th, 2019
- Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: New Exchanges Could Boost Crypto Liquidity - May 25th, 2019
- Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds - May 25th, 2019