Indian Musical Forms Influence Sameer Gupta’s Jazz

The former Bay Area resident has a new album, A Circle Has No Beginning, and is at the Freight with old and new friends to promote it.


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Percussionist Sameer Gupta will be at The Freight with new and old friends.

Photo by Rebecca Meek

Percussionist Sameer Gupta got his start in the Bay Area music scene in the early 1990s playing roof-raised free jazz in the Supplicants, a spiritually charged power trio with Broun Fellinis, saxophonist David Boyce, and Berkeley bassist David Ewell. Performing at venues around the Mission district, he watched the rise of Classical Revolution, the collective founded by violist Charith Premawardhana that brings chamber music to bars and cafes.

Increasingly drawn to the North Indian classical tradition, he started concentrating on the tabla as well as the drum kit, even moving between both instruments in New York pianist Marc Carey’s Focus Trio. Relocating to New York City in 2008, Gupta translated the Classical Revolution concerts into a Hindustani context and launched Brooklyn Raga Massive to bring together a far-flung collection of musicians studying Indian classical music.

His various musical lives converged last summer when Brooklyn Raga Massive and Classical Revolution came together for BRM’s reimagining of Terry Riley’s “In C” at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. Gupta returns to town to celebrate his recent album, A Circle Has No Beginning, which expands his sumptuous melding of classical Indian forms with jazz’s harmonic vistas.

The project features his fellow Supplicant David Boyce, Classical Revolution’s Premawardhana, Sacramento guitar explorer Ross Hammond, and Carnatic alto saxophonist Prasant Radhakrishnan. The East Coast contingent includes cellist Marika Hughes, a former Bay Area resident, and bassist Rashaan Carter, beginning a new musical circle in Berkeley.

Aug. 19, Freight & Salvage, $16-$20, 510-644-2020, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley, TheFreight.com.

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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