Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., the Amherst College Jazz Ensemble, under Visiting Director of Jazz Performance Carl Clements, collaborates with Boston-based world-jazz group Natraj. The two groups will perform together on a piece by Natraj leader Phil Scarff based on the North Indian raga "Jog." The ACJE also features works by Mongo Santamaria, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus and others. Natraj will perform a set of original compositions.
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 jazz conception. Selected as Boston’s Best Jazz Band by The Improper Bostonian and nominated Best World Music Act at the Boston Music Awards, Natraj captivates and excites audiences with exotic textures, accessible melodies, and rhythmic energy.
Phil Scarff – soprano saxophone
Bruno Raberg – string bass
Jerry Leake – tabla, multipercussion
Bertram Lehmann – drums and percussion
Carl Clements – special guest, bamboo flute
“Natraj blends complex tempos and traditions with graceful, unforced virtuosity … a hypnotic, symbiotic tapestry. Fusion is rarely this deep and exotic yet accessible … discover a new world here.” —The Boston Globe
“Technical excellence and sensitive musicianship transcend national and cultural boundaries, and there is clearly an abundance of both on this recording…. Compares favorably with Shakti.... Every performer displays both a melodic and technical flair…. The performances on this album are everywhere excellent.” —Cadence
“[This] Boston group doesn’t simply draw on Indian influences some of the time—it specializes in a seamless blend of jazz and Indian music.... [Natraj] embraces both Western and Indian instruments … delightfully unconventional.” —Jazziz
“We heard the future of jazz ... we heard the future of world music ... a spellbinding tapestry... a jazz hybrid of celebration and reflection.” —Times of India
“East meets West and South in the music of the Boston-based band Natraj. The quintet plays contemporary jazz with intoxicating Indian influences and entrancing African rhythms, hypnotically combining instruments from the three regions into eerie and original music.” —WBUR-FM, Boston, MA
ACJE performs in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Building. The concert is free and open to the public, collecting cash for the Amherst Survival Center.