| A WORLD OF SOUND: Robert Spalding Newcomb and Stephen Rush at practice
One is a classically trained pianist who uses the concept of raga to introduce modern compositional approaches to melody and tala to achieve similar results in the realm of rhythmic composition'
The other, strumming his sitar and guitar strings, has spent 30 years navigating myriad moods of American, Irish and British traditional folk, blues, traditional and freeform jazz, rock, classical, Indian ragas and chants'
Stephen Rush and Robert Spalding Newcomb have been beat buddies for more than seven years. During this extended communion, they have shared musical and political theories, dissected and debated parallel experiences with Indian culture and explored the 'deep influence' of the Vedanta and the Gita on their music and philosophy.
Now, they are set to unveil their eclectic repertoire before an audience with an intrinsic yen for experimental jazz. The public affairs office, US consulate-general, Calcutta, in collaboration with Calcutta School of Music Jazz Listeners' Forum, presents Rush and Newcomb in concert at the Lincoln Room, American Center, on Saturday, 7 pm. The performance will be preceded by a workshop/interactive session.
The thread of India that binds the duo is unmistakable. While Newcomb plays the sitar, Rush has studied Carnatic vocals since 1992 and has received grants from the Kellogg Foundation and the University of Michighan to collaborate with Indian singers.
Rush, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, is an instructor who introduces his pupils to modern music in an 'interdisciplinary way, focussing on Indian elements and philosophy'. He holds a doctorate in western classical composition and is also an active jazz pianist. His has performed all over the world, with recent shoes in Berlin, Dresden, Tokyo, Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands, Hungary and Nicaragua.
Newcomb, whose 'technically brilliant' album Native Planting has received rave reviews from critics around the globe, does numerous solo performances, playing the sitar and guitar, often with computer accompaniment, mediation and filtering. His approach is 'inspired improvisation', and he delivers 'realised structures' rather than pre-composed formal works.
Rush and Newcomb's music will be 'listener-friendly and musically/intellectually challenging', providing a rewarding insight into the world of sound created by their combined skills on Indian soil, according to a spokesperson for American Center.