Rudresh Mahanthappa

Consistently heralded by critics as one of the most original composers in his field, altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s prolific contributions to contemporary jazz have earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship, commissions to create new work from the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, Chamber Music America and the American Composers Forum, and a win in the 2011 Downbeat international Critics Poll. His rare ability to synthesize South Indian music concepts with a seemingly boundless range of unexpected influences frequently characterizes him as one of the most important artists in the music today — a distinction the Jazz Journalists Association recently echoed by naming him Alto Saxophonist of the Year three consecutive times from 2009-2011.

But accolades aside, it’s what the New Yorker has called Rudresh’s “visceral tone and grab-you-by-the-collar attack” that’s driven new, international audiences to each of the seven projects he currently leads or co-leads. His critically acclaimed 2010 release, Apex (Pi), with alto saxophone legend Bunky Green, featuring Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette, was widely lauded as one of the year’s best recordings, as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, the Boston Globe, JazzTimes and other publications hailed the rhythmic dynamism and exuberant ensemble interaction sparked by the group both on stage and on the record. The material Rudresh recorded in 2008 with Carnatic sax guru Kadri Gopalnath for their Kinsmen, (Pi) project displayed a wholly different concept — executed with equally breath-taking chops. And since the 2009 release of Apti, the tabla and guitar-studded Indo-Pak Coalition has provided a more playful take on Mahanthappa’s symbiosis between the music of his ancestors and the jazz he grew up listening to in Colorado.

Though the formats vary widely, Rudresh’s purpose shines through them all. In both his composition and his playing, he seeks to explore new musical territory and, in Rudresh’s words, “to address what it is to be Indian-American by digesting Indian music on my own terms.” By meticulously searching for a new swath of musical possibilities, Rudresh casts a wide net, incorporating inspiration from the gamut of his experience — from his days as an undergrad at Berklee to his studies in DePaul University’s Jazz Composition Masters program to his professional work with artists in North America, Europe, India, and beyond.

Related News

Pi Recordings, Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang have been voted voted #4 Label and #3 Rising Star Producers in DownBeat’s 60th Annual Critics Poll.

Congratulations also goes out to Vijay Iyer for his record setting five #1 category showings; Artist, Album, Group, Piano and Rising Star Composer and to Rudresh Mahanthappa for his #1 Alto of the year showing.

posted on July 19, 2012 by Seth


DownBeat’s Critics Poll Winners have been released and there is much to celebrate. We are very pleased to congratulate Rudresh Mahanthappa for being voted top Alto Saxophonist. Apex is in the top 5 Jazz Albums of the Year at #4. Other categories where Pi Recordings’ artists were recognized by the critics:

  • Jazz Artist - Vijay Iyer, Henry Threadgill & Rudresh Mahanthappa
  • Piano - Vijay Iyer
  • Rising Star Jazz Artist - Rudresh Mahanthappa & Vijay Iyer
  • Composer - Henry Threadgill & Vijay Iyer
  • Rising Star Piano - Vijay Iyer
  • Alto Saxophone - Henry Threadgill , Bunky Green & Steve Coleman
  • Jazz Group - Henry Threadgill Zooid
  • Flute - Henry Threadgill
  • Guitar - Marc Ribot
  • Rising Star Guitar - Liberty Ellman
  • Rising Star Composer - Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman & Rudresh Mahanthappa
  • Record Label - Pi Recordings

posted on July 19, 2011 by Seth


We are pleased to announce that we have added 4 items to our store for the holiday season:

posted on December 9, 2010 by Seth


Check out the recent Bunky Green interview with Patrick Jarenwattananon @ NPR: Part I & Part II

posted on October 19, 2010 by Intern


Shaun Brady of JazzTimes writes a review on Apex. Read the review HERE

posted on October 19, 2010 by Intern


Out September 28th: Apex, the two-alto saxophone conclave of Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green! The CD features Jason Moran, Francois Moutin, Damion Reid and the legendary Jack DeJohnette! Check out the preview HERE.

posted on August 10, 2010 by Yulun


Ben Ratliff of The New York Times wrote a fantastic review of Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green’s Apex premier show at the Jazz Standard in NYC. The band is in the studio today and tomorrow recording for Pi Recordings. Look for the release, featuring Jason Moran and Jack DeJohnette, in the fall.

posted on April 22, 2010 by Seth


Pi Recordings is proud to announce our presence in Downbeat Magazine’s 74th Annual Readers Poll.

Some highlights from the poll:

  • Rudresh Mahanthappa was voted into the Alto Saxophone category and was also acknowledged for his release Kinsman for Album of the Year.

  • Multi-Instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell was voted in this year’s poll for the Soprano Saxophone category.

Last, but not least:

  • Pi Recordings was voted into the Record Label of the Year category!

Thank you to all the Downbeat readers who voted, and thank you to all of our devoted Pi fans who let their voices be heard!

posted on November 17, 2009 by Intern


The official results of the 57th Down Beat Critics Poll are out and, as usual, the Pi family is well represented. Rudresh Mahanthappa, in particular, had a stellar year: His release Kinsmen was named #5 top album of the year; he entered the top alto sax category for the first time, coming in at #7, and was #1 in the Rising Star alto saxophone list as well; plus he was named the #1 Rising Star Jazz Artist and #5 Rising Star Composer. Vijay Iyer also had a spectacular year: He was named five times (six if you count Rising Start Jazz Group ranking for Fieldwork.) Finally, Muhal Richard Abrams came in at #4 in the Hall of Fame balloting. Could next year be Muhal’s year?

Balloting results below. Congratulations to everyone!

Hall of Fame - Muhal Richard Abrams #4; Jazz Album - Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kinsmen #5; Jazz Artist, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa #1; Jazz Artist, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer #3; Jazz Group, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer Quartet #2; Jazz Group, Rising Star - Fieldwork #11; Trumpet - Wadada Leo Smith #8; Trumpet, Rising Star - Corey Wilkes #9; Trombone - George Lewis - #7; Soprano Saxophone - Roscoe Mitchell #10; Alto Saxophone - Rudresh Mahanthappa #7; Alto Saxophone - Anthony Braxton #9; Alto Saxophone, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa #1; Alto Saxophone, Rising Star - Steve Lehman #5; Flute - Henry Threadgill #12; Piano, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer #1; Electric Keyboard/Synthesizer - Craig Taborn #5; Electric Keyboard/Synthesizer, Rising Star - Craig Taborn #1; Guitar - Marc Ribot #11; Acoustic Bass, Rising Star - Drew Gress #7; Electric Bass, Rising Star - Stomu Takeishi #1; Electric Bass, Rising Star - Drew Gress #5; Drums - Eric Harland #10; Drums - Jack DeJohnette #2; Drums - Nasheet Waits #12; Drums, Rising Star - Eric Harland #1; Drums, Rising Star - Dafnis Prieto #2; Drums, Rising Star - Marcus Gilmore #4; Drums, Rising Star - Nasheet Waits #6; Drums, Rising Star - Gerald Cleaver #10; Drums, Rising Star - Tyshawn Sorey #11; Vibes, Rising Star - Bryan Carrott #4; Vibes, Rising Star - Chris Dingman #12; Violin - Charles Burnham #7; Composer - Vijay Iyer #6; Composer, Rising Star - Vijay Iyer #3; Composer, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa #5; Blues Artist/Group - James Blood Ulmer #6.

posted on July 21, 2009 by Yulun


Pi Recordings is very pleased to announce that at last night’s Jazz Journalists Association awards presentation, Rudresh Mahanthappa was named Alto Saxophonist of the Year. This is the first time that Rudresh has been given this honor, but we think, probably not the last. We would like to congratulate Rudresh and thank all of the journalists who voted for him.

posted on June 17, 2009 by Seth


Due to overwhelming demand, we have extended our sale on all things Rudresh Mahanthappa and his incredible CD Kinsmen. to the end of April. Purchase a copy of Kinsmen at our regular price and get ANY other CD in the Pi Recordings catalog for only $12 ($18 for double CDs) all with one flat shipping fee. For a limited time only, we also have Rudresh’s other acclaimed release Apti out on Innova Records and Black Water, his early release on Red Giant. Among other CDs that you might find interesting include Rudresh’s other releases on Pi: Codebook and Mother Tongue. He is also prominently featured on the Vijay Iyer Quartet recordings Blood Sutra and Reimagining and in duo with Vijay on Raw Materials. Finally, he is an important part of Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers, a ground-breaking synthesis of jazz with the Iraqi Maqam. You can also pick up a limited edition Kinsmen T-shirt on sale for $18 with the purchase of a Kinsmen CD. We hope you take advantage of this chance to discover more innovative jazz on Pi Recordings. (Note that the discount prices will not show up in your cart but will be reflected on your charge.)

posted on March 19, 2009 by Yulun


The hits keep on coming for Rudresh Mahanthappa and his CD Kinsmen. This time, he is featured on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, in an extensive interview with Terry Gross. You can listen to that along with Howard Mandel’s NPR piece HERE.

Also this week, Peter Margasak in the Chicago Reader called Kinsmen “a paradigm shift, accomplishing his most dramatic and insightful fusion yet of jazz and Indian classical music. It delivers a downright ecstatic jolt, with Mahanthappa’s bright tone gaining energy and depth in the presence of the more stately improvisations of the great Kadri Gopalnath…”

posted on March 12, 2009 by Yulun


We are so pleased to let everyone know that the new issue of the New Yorker features an article by Gary Giddins on Rudresh Mahanthappa’s two new recordings Kinsmen and Apti. Without question Giddins is one of the top voices writing about music today and this article is one of the best that we have read on Rudresh, his music and in particular his collaboration with Kadri Gopalnath. Giddins writes: “Kinsmen is a momentous achievement that will be around for a long time to come.” Please read it and enjoy.

posted on February 24, 2009 by Seth


Rudresh Mahanthappa has posted a very personal introduction to Indian classical music on the Destination:Out blog. It provides some rich insight into how this music provides melodic and rhythmic inspiration for his own work.

posted on February 2, 2009 by Yulun


The accolades keep piling up for Rudresh Mahanthappa and Kinsmen. The New York Times’ jazz critic Ben Ratliff listed Kinsmen as one of the top 10 jazz releases in the seven years since his book “Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings” was released in 2002. Read the full list and his response to other questions from readers here.

posted on January 12, 2009 by Yulun


WOW!!! Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Kinsmen takes second place in the Third Annual Village Voice Jazz Critic’s Poll. The poll tallies the votes of 79 jazz critics. Sonny Rollins’ Roadshows Vol. 1. took first place but two other members of the Pi family, Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith, took fourth and fifth place, respectively. Congratulations Rudresh!

posted on January 4, 2009 by Yulun


NPR’s All Things Considered has just run a profile of Rudresh by Howard Mandel. The piece discusses Kinsmen and interviews Rudresh and Rez Abbasi. It also covers the South Asian presence in jazz and its development over the years. It can be heard HERE.

Further, Will Hermes of Rolling Stone has listed Kinsmen in his Top Albums and Singles of 20008 along with Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio, Santogold and Vampire Weekend.

posted on January 3, 2009 by Seth


Kinsmen continues to show up on year end lists. This week alone it has appeared on Ben Ratliff’s New York Times 2008 Top 10 at #4, NPR’s Take 5 Top 5 Jazz CDs of 2008 at #2 and Top 10 Jazz albums of 2008 at #4.

Earlier mentions this season include Pop Matters, All Music Guide, The Boston Globe and The Boston Phoenix.

posted on December 23, 2008 by Seth


Jazz Times writer Mike Shanley attended the premier of Rudresh’s Guggenheim supported new work Samdhi: Diasporic Connection in Pittsburgh. Jazz Times has posted a review of it recently. The review and interview with Rudresh that preceded the performance give a nice preview of what looks to be a major new work from Rudresh. Shanley says of the music “… new music of this caliber hasn’t been attempted before. Granted, Kinsmen, Mahanthappa’s latest album, set the course. But while that album featured him sharing space with Indian saxophonist Kadri Golpalnath, the Pittsburgh performance put all the emphasis on Mahanthappa the bandleader and composer.” Providing a sneak peak to those who were not able to attend the performance he describes a section of the music as follows “…Mahanthappa began a duet with his laptop, blowing notes that immediately played back at him, creating a harmony that gradually became dissonant and grew in sound until eventually the laptop sounded like a chorus of Indian vocalists singing over a programmed beat. “

We look forward to hearing more about Samdhi soon.

posted on November 3, 2008 by Seth


Interested in finding out more about our latest critically acclaimed release Kinsmen from Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Dakshina Ensemble? Rudresh is interviewed by John Schafer on WNYC’s Soundcheck

posted on October 23, 2008 by Yulun


A great review of Rudresh’s Kinsmen was published in The New York Times today. Written by Ben Ratliff, the review opens with the high praise of “There’s no groove I’ve heard quite like the one on “Ganesha…”, moves on to call the music “… really something…” and describes Rudresh as ” (having) internalized Charlie Parker’s ballad tone, and some of his hustling phrasing and his harmonic ideas from post-Coltrane saxophonists like Michael Brecker and Steve Coleman.” It’s always nice to be appreciated by your home town paper. It’s a little special when it’s the New York Times.

posted on October 13, 2008 by Seth


The Year End Lists are in and we would like to thank the following critics for their support of our releases this year; Alex Dutilh for including Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell’s Streaming and Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Codebook in his year end list and Stuart Broomer and Philip DiPietro for including Steve Lehman’s On Meaning in their year end lists.

Additionally, we would like to thank those critics whose votes helped Muhal Richard Abrams Vision Towards Essence to be included on the Village Voice 2007 Jazz Poll and those whose votes helped Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers to be recognized among the Best Debut Albums of 2007.

posted on January 2, 2008 by Seth


The end of the year is fun for any number of reasons, but it is especially fun for us as it gives us a moment to find out who really enjoyed our output for the year.

At the top of our list this year has to be Derk Richardson. His declaration that Muhal Richard Abrams Vision Towards Essence is the Solo Piano release of the year, in the San Francisco Gate, is no small step towards making this our best year yet.

Not to be outdone though, Siddhartha Mitter listed Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers in his 2007 best of list in The Boston Globe alongside M.I.A. and Bettye LaVette. Not bad.

posted on December 23, 2007 by Seth


We never get tired of support from the New York Times, especially when it is as positive as Nate Chinen’s review of Steve Lehman’s On Meaning. From the most recent Critic’s Choice column Nate describes the results of the recording date as “The layered complexity of his music attests to some careful calibration, but the playing reflects something else: a spirit of lunging abandon constrained by collective purpose.” Regarding other label favorites, “The album’s chief relationship is between Mr. Lehman and Tyshawn Sorey, an impulsive yet exacting drummer; together they make up two-thirds of Fieldwork, a separate group that has made a science of rhythmic convolution.” Further wets our appetite for 2008, as Fieldwork goes into the studio this Friday to start work on their third recording.

From the pages of Jazz Times, Chris Kelsey’s review of Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers appropriately sums up Amir and the recording with these lines, “ElSaffar’s band (Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto sax; Nasheet Waits, drums; Carlo DeRosa, bass; Tareq Abboushi, buzuq and percussion; Zaafer Tawil, oud, violin, dumbek) has nary a weak link… There’s not the faintest hint of dabbling here; ElSaffar knows from whence he came, in every respect.”

posted on December 19, 2007 by Seth

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