Kenny G and Rahul Sharma Team Up For New Release

05/18/2012
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Concord Records have set a June 26th release date for Kenny G and Rahul Sharma's new collaborative release, Namaste.

The new album combines the exotic, sultry sounds of santoor and saxophone, with a chill mix by Kid Tricky. We were sent this background:

Namaste is a collaborative album crafted by Rahul Sharma – a native of India's Kashmir region and a third-generation master of the exotic, 100-string santoor – and saxophonist Kenny G, a multiple Grammy-winning titan on the contemporary jazz landscape for more than two decades. This unusual and daring project captures the best of these two musicians – with a chill ambiance set up by mixer/producer extraordinaire Kid Tricky, (along with Walter A. and Soul Seekerz) – is set for release on June 26th, 2012 by Concord Records.

The evolution of Namaste is a fascinating story of two artists transcending cultural boundaries, beginning when Sharma, who first learnt the santoor from his father the legendary santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, approached saxophonist Kenny G during the latter musician's performance in Mumbai a few years ago. Sharma, who has developed a substantial domestic and international following since the late 1990s via more than 50 studio recordings and extensive touring, introduced himself to Kenny by presenting him with a few of his CDs during his visit. Some informal discussions ensued, and an idea quickly took shape to collaborate on a studio recording by emailing music files back and forth from opposite ends of the globe and two very diverse musical perspectives.

The result was Namaste India, released in India in 2011, a collection of seven tracks that were deeply rooted in the traditions of Indian folk and classical music, but were also finely embellished with saxophone solos and accompaniments of an unmistakably Western orientation. As musical and cultural marriages go, it was a thing of beauty.

"It was an experiment to see how the santoor and the saxophone would work together," says Sharma. "I knew Kenny would add so much to the compositions. But when I listened to the final results, I thought, 'Wow, this is even better than I expected.' The way he ended many of the tracks with a few simple notes was such a beautiful complement to the entire composition. He would improvise in a way that was so unexpected, and then find a way to fit it back into a melody that wasn't typical of the kind of music he has recorded in the past."

Kenny G, for all of his artistic and commercial success over the past two decades as a composer and an improviser, admits that working his way into Sharma's tracks was no routine task. "It wasn't the usual formula of playing the melody, improvising, repeating the melody, and then doing an ending," he says. "It was more a question of 'Where do I fit in? What notes do I play that will best serve this piece of music?' But it was fun. It was an opportunity to just experiment with the sounds and notes and phrases. Little by little, over the course of several months, we put together the first few songs, and we realized, 'Hey, I think we have something going here…'"

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