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Where Jazz Meets Kathak

Anjali Mitter Duva
12/13/2007

On Saturday, December 1s, 2007, world jazz ensemble  Natraj performed with
Gretchen Hayden, Chhandika’s Artistic Director, at SpringStep in Medford, MA.

Natraj melds classical Indian and traditional West African music with contemporary jazz, and this was their first collaboration with classical kathak dance Gretchen Hayden. They performed to a near full hall and enthusiastic audience. A good number were drawn to the event  after reading a feature article on Ms.Hayden in that morning’s  edition of the Boston Globe .

The stunning, glass enclosed arts building at SpringStep echoed with the soulful melodies of Phil Scarff’s soprano saxophone , Mark Rivard’s masterfully played string bass and the strains of Rohan Gregory’s violin. What had the audiences feet tapping, howevever, were the resonant beats of Jerry Leake and Bertram Lehmann’s tabla, clay pot, West African drums and other percussive instruments, interspersed with the  melodious and rhythmic jingle of Ms. Hayde Hayden’s ankle bells. While approaching Indian music and traditions in different ways and from different places, Ms. Hayden and Natraj found common ground in the their mastery of the music’s intricate rhythms, the their impressive ability to improvise and their capacity for innovation within tradition. Ms. Hayden once again showed herself  to be an artist to the core, interpreting,  adapting and creating on the spot while drawing from the seemingly endless well
of  her classical kathak repertoire.

Gretchen Hayden and George Ruckert will be performing on Dec 15 at MIT. Please checkout  http://www.mithas.org  for more information.

To learn more about Springstep please check out their website at http://www.springstep.org.
 



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