(Left to right: Nitin Mitta, Vijay Iyer, Prasanna) Photo credit: Alan Nahigian
Vijay Iyer, 2011 Grammy nominee & JJA Musician of the Year, Chennai (formerly Madras)-born guitarist-composer Prasanna, and Hyderabad native and tabla player Nitin Mitta have achieved a fully realized, deeply thoughtful, and truly innovative collaboration called Tirthia.
Tirthia, to be released on March 8, 2011, combines the elemental directness of rock, the chamber-like intimacy of raga, and bebop’s hard, angular drive, and achieves a profound interplay of melody and rhythm that characterizes jazz.
“Tirtha (the band) formed in response to an invitation,” said Iyer in a news release. “In 2007, I was asked to put together a concert celebrating 60 years of Indian independence. Normally I’ve steered clear of fusion experiments that attempt to mix styles – to “create something,” as John Coltrane famously admonished, “more with labels, you see, than true evolution.” For this event, I hoped to avoid those pitfalls, and offer something personal.
“I invited along Prasanna and Nitin Mitta, two outstanding musicians from India who have settled in the States. None of us had collaborated previously, but at our first rehearsal we felt a jolt of recognition. There was no question of “fusion,” no compromise, no attempt to sound more or less “Indian”; just a fluid musical conversation among three individuals, an atmosphere of camaraderie, a sense of beginning.”
Composer-pianist Iyer is one of today’s most acclaimed and respected young American jazz artists. He received the Musician of the Year Award in the 2010 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, the 2010 Echo Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international ensemble with his trio, and the Downbeat Critics Poll for rising star jazz group of the year. His latest recordings on the ACT label include Solo (2010) and the trio album Historicity (2009). Historicity subsequently received a Grammy Nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.