Brooklyn Raga MassiveBrooklyn, NY NYC Impact Fund
Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM) is a collective of forward thinking musicians rooted in and inspired by classical Indian music. With humble beginnings in a Prospect Heights dive bar, Brooklyn Raga Massive has expanded exponentially over the past five years cultivating a growing community of creative musicians and devoted fans. Hailed as “Leaders of the Raga Renaissance” by the New Yorker, BRM hosts an ongoing weekly concert and raga jam session series, performs and curates over a dozen annual specialty concerts, co-hosts an annual 24 Ragas Live festival, and creates original composed music. Performing at a multitude of venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan, BRM features both traditional classical Indian performances as well as contemporary music experiments with other world music traditions. In particular, the inclusive cross-cultural and spontaneous nature of BRMs weekly jam sessions has not only built a strong community, but has also become an incubator of new music collaborations and genres of music indigenous to Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Raga Massive has performed at and received enthusiastic support from some of NYC’s premier presenting organizations and venues such as World Music Institute, Lincoln Center, Pioneer Works, Bang on a Can, Kennedy Center, Winter Jazz Festival, Joe’s Pub, Rubin Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Brooklyn Museum. Both a critical and audience favorite, Brooklyn Raga Massive has been praised by the Wall Street Journal for “Expanding the notion of what raga—the immersive, epic form of Indian music—can mean… BRM members seek to redefine classical Indian music in the new century”. The New York Times wrote in 2016, “Riveting… Soulful… Preserving the past while blurring genres in an inventive spirit”. The Village Voice chimed in, “Few musical hangs have been as dependably rewarding as Brooklyn Raga Massive’s jam sessions which feature the cream of the local Indian classical community”.
Over the years, BRM’s platform has proven to be fertile ground for original works and collaborations amongst musicians across genres and backgrounds. Several new innovative projects were featured in 2016 during a residency at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn such as, Raga Chamber Music (original chamber music inspired by Raga, Jazz, Folk, Western classical), Raga Cubana and Africa India (cross cultural explorations between Indian and Cuban/African musical traditions), Women’s Raga Massive (a performance featuring female bandleaders and composers), Raga and the Moving Image (new and improvised music with film), Ragas In Motion (originally composed music with collaborative dance), and a series of tribute projects including the John Coltrane Raga Tribute, BRM Ravi Shankar Tribute, and BRM Beatles Tribute. As a large ensemble, BRM puts a unique perspective performing Terry Riley’s minimalist masterpiece, “In C”, by emphasizing Indian Classical instrumentation and improvisation. Another BRM project includes a Raga Roots series, presenting music by members of the collective and visiting artists. In addition, over 30+ core collective members and ensembles are always actively writing new works for their own ensembles, reflective of their multilingual musical and cultural identities. A sample of artists in the BRM family include, Arun Ramamurthy Trio, Trina Basu’s ‘Karavika’, Sameer Gupta’s ‘Namaskar’, The Neel Murgai Ensemble, Africa Meets India with Eric Fraser, Michael Gam’s ‘Om Gam’, ‘Orakel’ with Roshni Samlal and Kane Mathis, and a host of individual musicians such as Jay Gandhi, Samarth Nagarkar, Abhik Mukherjee, David Ellenbogen, Roopa Mahadevan, and many others.
Videsi by Neel Murgai
Drawing on the traditional Indian Raga “Desi” while applying contrapuntal syncopated motifs over Indian rhythmic cycles, members of Brooklyn Raga Massive play an original song, “Videsi”by Neel Murgai, in the beautiful Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room at the Rubin Museum of Art as part of Lincoln Center Offstage Series.
Tempest by Trina Basu & Arun Ramamurthy
Recorded in “The Containter” at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn Raga Massive 2016 Residency. String Summit – Arun Ramamurthy/violin, Trina Basu/violin, Anjna Swaminathan/violin, Kensuke Shoji/violin, Adam Maalouf/cello, Michael Gam/bass.
Taiwa by Sameer Gupta
Studio recording by members of the Brooklyn Raga Massive: Sameer Gupta/drums, Marc Cary/piano, Brandee Younger/harp, Trina Basu/violin, Arun Ramamurthy/violin, Jay Gandhi/bansuri, Marika Hughes/cello, Rashaan Carter/bass
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