Prasanna's Carnatic Convergence Concept Produces Potent Panethnic Potion
AAJ: Tell us what Stephane Galland brings to the table at the drum set.
P: Lots of fun, mischief and incredible musicianship! Stephane is one of the most special drummers in the world. One has to play with him to realize how great he is! Michel, the bassist is in a league of his own. Frankly, all three members of Aka Moon are in an elite class of their own.
AAJ: Tell us about the special relationship you and a co-guitarist in that group, David Gilmore , share.
P: David is always a joy to listen to and even more a joy to play with, and chill out with. We stay in touch quite often and I look forward to roping David into some of my other projects in the future.
AAJ: Tell us about the Aka Moon touring that was done before and after the recording.
P: We played the Middelheim Jazz Festival in Belgium before the recording. Guitars was released in April 2002. We toured Europe that same month to promote the CD, and had a blast playing some great venues in Belgium, Holland and France.
AAJ: Will you be gigging with the band on this recording in the future? Is this an ongoing project?
P: I will be performing with Aka Moon and Joe Lovano in North Sea Jazz Festival this year. It will be a sextet with myself, the Aka Moon trio, Fabian Fiorini on Piano, Geoffrey De Masur on Trombone and our very special guest will be saxophonist Joe Lovano.
As far as I know, Aka Moon and I should be working together on an on-going basis. We have several projects in mind. I plan to take Aka Moon Guitars to India sometime when the right situation comes about. It would be great to also have Aka Moon play my compositions in some project. We'll see what the future has in store for collaborations.
P: I invited Alphonso and Kenwood to join me for a concert in Chennai, India in Jan 2000. It was at the Open Air Theatre in IIT (my alma mater). We had a great time playing together for the first time to an audience of almost 6000 people at the stadium. The material is usually mine and they sound great on it.
I met Airto Moreira in LA, where Alphonso and I suggested we do some jamming. There was enough chemistry there, so we went out on the road as 'Quantum', doing two sold out nights at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, Canada in May 2002. We recorded the shows on multi-track to see if there's some magic somewhere that can be put out, but we had some technical problems with the recording. Since then, we have been finding a way to tour again, but each of us have so many other projects going on at the same time. We hope it will happen soon.
AAJ: Will you work with these guys in the future?
P: Of course! I am right now in a state of flux as far as getting any one band together since all these great musicians add so much to my music but at the same time, everybody is busy. In the last year or so, I have had so many great musicians like Alphonso, Airto, Kenwood, Larry Coryell, Steve Smith, Kai Eckhardt, Ralph Humphrey and many others play my material with me and they all put a different spin on it, which is really cool. I plan to start recording some of my material in this genre, and I think that will suggest some options to work on a good touring band for longer tours and other things.
AAJ: How many US dates have you played with these guys?
P: A few concerts here and there in different places in North America, but more importantly, they've been at good venues and with great audiences, so the vibe has been very good in every sense.
AAJ: Did you play anywhere else in Europe as a unit with Alphonso and /or Airto and Kenwood?
P: Not yet! Hopefully soon!
AAJ: How do you split your personality with bands internationally? Do you try to coordinate it so that you can do a Carnatic gig along with the fusion, or do you even think in those terms?
P: My life in Carnatic music goes on a parallel but integrated track. I do lots of tours- notably in the US, Canada, Europe and of course India, playing Carnatic concerts. I just got back from a tour of the Middle East playing in Qatar. I've gotten to play prestigious venues and festivals many times and the audiences have been great everywhere. There are many 'two-set' concerts I have done and will continue to do - a traditional carnatic first set and a Jazz/Fusion band as second set. People love this and its also very stimulating for me to do these kinds of concerts. I also like to do duo concerts. I did one with Larry Coryell last year. I'll be doing one with Victor Wooten in California this September and one with Steve Smith in Spokane in Sept.
AAJ: Please tell us about some of the incredible classical Indian musicians you have worked with and will continue to work with.
P: I have enjoyed working with several top level carnatic musicians ranging from my guru, A. Kanyakumari, a great Carnatic violinist, to people like violinist Dr. L. Subramaniam to mridangam masters like Dr. T. K. Murthy, Prof. Trichy Sankaran, to thavil maestro Haridwaramangalam A.K.Palanivel etc, to Ghatam master 'Vikku' Vinayakram, and a host of others. I have also worked with accomplished Hindustani musicians like flautist HariPrasad Chaurasia, vocalist Shubha Mudgal, tabla players like Fazal Qureshi, Aneesh Pradhan and many others.