Tag: Amirtha Kidambi

Darius Jones: For The People

Darius Jones: For The People
Monday, November 5, 2018
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Part concert and part community event, For the People, organized by Darius Jones in collaboration with The Wet Ink Large Ensemble brings together musicians and activists on the eve of the upcoming midterm election.
When: Monday, November 5, 2018
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://bit.ly/FA181105

Brooklyn, NYFor the People is a community-based event and concert organized by Darius Jones on the eve of the November midterm election. The evening is centered around a collection of compositions by Jones—in collaboration with The Wet Ink Large Ensemble—that uphold the belief that artists have the duty and power to inform, inspire, and empower their community. The evening includes the world premiere of Being Caged In ICE, followed by the second performance ever of America The Joke, and concludes with the return of LawNOrder (pronounced “law no order”), a game piece examining social justice and American History in which each player represents a separate character and is handed a law to follow at the beginning of the piece. Onnesha Roychoudhuri, Brooklyn-based activist, editor, educator, and author of The Marginalized Majority: Claiming Our Power in a Post-Truth America to speak.

Appearances by:
Eric Wubbels: piano
Ian Antonio: percussion
Josh Modney: violin
Weston Olencki: trombone
Amirtha Kidambi: voice
Gelsey Bell: voice
Nina Dante: voice
Sugar Vendil: piano
Sean Conly: bass
Michael Vatcher: drums
Daniel Givens: electronics
Jean Carla Rodea: voice
Shelley Nicole: voice
Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet
Leia Slosberg: flute
Jessica Jones: tenor sax
Sam Newsome: soprano sax

For more information about this project visit votefordarius.com.

Darius Jones is a critically acclaimed alto saxophonist and composer. In 2008, Jones was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship by Roulette, which he used to launch the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, a project dedicated to new works for voice. Roulette continued to support Jones’ work through a Jerome Foundation Commission, awarding Jones an Artist-in-Residence opportunity for the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit to premiere his vocal composition, The Oversoul Manual, in2014. Jones made his compositional debut at Carnegie Hall with The Oversoul Manual in October 2014. In 2013, Jones was nominated for Alto Saxophonist of the Year, and for Up & Coming Artist of the Year two years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards. He was one of Jazz Times’ Debut Artists of the Year for 2009, and his 2012 release, Book of Mæ’bul (Another Kind of Sunrise), was listed among NPR’s Best Top 10 Jazz Albums of that year.

High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music

High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music
Wednesday–Thursday, September 19–20, 2018
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Roulette and the High Zero Foundation present the High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music, a 2-day festival featuring over 25 musicians from New York and Baltimore.
When: Wednesday–Thursday, September 19–20, 2018
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://bit.ly/FA180919

Brooklyn, NY – The Baltimore-based High Zero Festival usually brings musicians from all over the world to Baltimore, but this year’s 20th-anniversary concert series flips the format by bringing High Zero Collective members to Roulette for two nights of improvisation with New York musicians. Each evening’s four curated sets aim to combine musicians who have never played together before. These musicians will improvise together for 20–30 minutes.

September 19
Set 1: Tom Boram, Ikue Mori, C Spencer Yeh
Set 2: Owen Gardner, Margaret Schedel, Shelly Purdy
Set 3: Jamal Moore, Jeff Carey, Ras Moshe, JD Parran, Andrew Bernstein
Set 4: Samuel Burt, Lea Bertucci, Michael Evans

September 20
Set 1: Bonnie Jones, Laura Ortman
Set 2: Sandy Ewen, Rose Hammer Burt, M.C. Schmidt
Set 3: Amirtha Kidambi, CK Barlow, John Berndt, Tom Hamilton
Set 4: Chuck Bettis, Stewart Mostofsky, Jaimie Branch

[RESIDENCY] Amirtha Kidambi: Lines of Light

What: The composer/vocalist Amirtha Kidambi channels centuries of vocal tradition through electronics and structured improvisation
with inspired, virtuosic collaborators.
When: June 17, 2018. 8pm.
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $20 Door, $15 Presale
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: bit.ly/SP180617

Brooklyn, NY – Virtuosic composer/vocalist Amirtha Kidambi continues her 2018 residency with Roulette to present the world premiere of Lines of Light. The piece is inspired by the title of the late Muhal Richard Abrams’s Levels and Degrees of Light and medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen’s reference to her vision of God as “The Shade of the Living Light” and brings together a group of female vocal powerhouses. Featuring Jean Carla Rodea, Anaïs Maviel, Emilie Lesbros, and Charmaine Lee, the quartet is a structured improvisation, intended to allow each vocalist to exercise maximum creativity within the larger framework of the piece. Following the Inauguration of Donald Trump, Kidambi assembled the group to freely improvise in order to form community with female musicians from diverse backgrounds in a time of extreme vulnerability and uncertainty. Developed out of Kidambi’s long-term vision to elevate vocalists within experimental music, as they have been historically marginalized due, in part, to the gendered nature of jazz and the avant-garde, Lines of Light showcases the increasingly high caliber of vocalists currently working in New York. The resident artist will also present a new improvised duo with Lea Bertucci on analog electronics. In the duo, Bertucci manipulates Kidambi’s voice through tactile methods with analog tape machine, by pressing on the reels and physically touching the tape. Kidambi reacts in turn with a vocal arsenal of timbral techniques, creating a literal visceral feedback loop of noise, processed, and amplified voice.

Amirtha Kidambi is invested in the creation and performance of subversive music, from free improvisation and avant-jazz, to experimental bands and new music. She is the creative force behind the band Elder Ones, as well as a key collaborator in Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl, duo with Darius Jones and his groups Elizabeth-Caroline Unit and Samesoul Maker, Maria Grand’s DiaTribe, various groups with William Parker, Charlie Looker’s Seaven Teares and Pat Spadine’s Ashcan Orchestra. As an improviser, she has played with Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock, Ava Mendoza, Trevor Dunn, Ben Vida, Tyondai Braxton, and Shahzad Ismaily. Kidambi worked closely with composer Robert Ashley until the end of his life and had the honor of working with Muhal Richard Abrams for the premiere of Dialogue Social. She has performed nationally and internationally in Europe and Asia, with Elder Ones and solo in collaborative formations for the Whitney Biennial, Carnegie Hall, Newport Jazz Festival, Berliner Festspiele (Germany), Festival Jazz Jantar (Poland), Borderline Festival (Greece), Bimhuis (Amsterdam), and Music Unlimited (Austria).

Lines of Light
Jean Carla Rodea
Anaïs Maviel
Emilie Lesbros
Charmaine Lee
Amirtha Kidambi

Amirtha Kidambi/Lea Bertucci Duo
Amirtha Kidambi – Voice
Lea Bertucci – Analog Electronics

Spotlight on Amirtha Kidambi


[RESIDENCY] Amirtha Kidambi: Lines of Light
Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Tell us about yourself and what you do.

My parents are from South India (Tamil Nadu) and immigrated to the U.S., settling in Buffalo where I was born. I was raised in the Bay Area where we did weekly devotional bhajan singing in the Indian community — where I basically learned to sing, that and choir in public school from age five. I also grew up doing Indian classical Bharatanatyam dance, which is deeply connected to the rhythms of Carnatic music and accompanied by a Carnatic ensemble — typically voice, violin, mridangam and the dance teacher intoning the rhythms on syllables. I grew up listening to a lot of that music, but also lots of classical music, jazz, R&B, metal, and punk. I got into more experimental / avant-garde music in college while studying classical music and hosting a radio show called “The Modern Age,” where I learned about a lot of music and composers such Edgard Varèse and early electronic music, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Anthony Braxton, Meredith Monk, and Giacinto Scelsi. That got me interested in singing experimental music and performing the work of contemporary composers, so when I moved to New York that is what I primarily focused on, and then turned towards improvising and composing my own music.

I guess I have always been interested in intensity and extremity, individuality and expression, subversion, music, and sounds that went against some kind of establishment… so all the music I was into when I was young across categories had those elements. Mostly I am focused on Elder Ones, which is the primary vehicle for my compositions but getting more used to the idea of solo work, which I found really daunting in the past. As I get more comfortable with it I am digging in deeper and think it will be a focus for me in the coming years. In recent years, I decided to only work with people who are asking me to do “my thing” within their music and have long-term existing relationships with them that will carry into the future. The music of Mary Halvorson, Darius Jones, Charlie Looker, Robert Ashley, Pat Spadine and other folks, all of it makes room for my own creativity through improvisation and expression, always in dialogue with the composer.

Describe the project you are developing for Roulette.

I’ve been working primarily on new solo work and also new pieces for Elder Ones for the first concert. The solo work is really informed by my studies in India and listening to a lot of solo work by musicians I admire. I’m also incorporating some percussion using ankle bells, from my days as a Bharatanatyam dancer and using some of that rhythmic language, though it’s still in an experimental stage. For Elder Ones, I’ve been writing music in direct response to all the horrors of our time. It’s overtly “political” and I don’t really care if it’s heavy-handed. We’re “talking back” through the music about what’s going on. It’s the only thing I know to do at the moment. We also brought in some new sounds, synth and electronic Sensory Percussion, so that has been adding an interesting sonic element to weaponize.

For the second one, I’m developing a vocal quintet of Emilie Lesbros, Anais Maviel, Jean Carla Rodea and Charmaine Lee (I’ll also perform in it) and an improvised duo with Lea Bertucci on analog electronics. I’m still developing the ideas for the second concert, but the general goal is to write an ensemble vocal work that gives these very unique and creative singers room to do their thing and experiment, in the context of a vocal group. I feel that improvised music, especially in the avant-garde scene is very instrument-centric, so this is an effort to build community with singers. There are some really amazing vocalists in New York right now! I was really inspired by working in Darius Jones’ vocal project Elizabeth-Caroline Unit.

How did you become involved with Roulette?

Roulette was one of (if not the first) venue where I was paid as a professional musician in New York. It was back in 2009 or 2010 with Seaven Teares at the Greene Street location in Soho, opening for Lee Ranaldo. Since then, Roulette has been part of nearly every major project I’ve done in New York — Dialogue Social with Muhal Richard Abrams, Robert Ashley’s CRASH, Darius Jones’ Oversoul Manual, Pat Spadine’s SheSings Herself A LittleSong, as well as the Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Commission where I developed Elder Ones, and now the residency. I owe SO MUCH to this venue, seriously!

What is it like living and working in New York City?

Hard! I live in Astoria, which I really love because it’s extremely diverse and has a major neighborhood vibe. The thing that makes it worth it is the people interactions, both in the music scene and just the general weirdness of people around you. The musical community is just so incredible here. I feel like I meet new musicians who are incredible all the time and then there are people like Reggie Workman walking around who you can run into in a hallway at the New School (after our last Elder Ones rehearsal). How crazy is that?  

What is influencing your work right now?

Two things… my summer in India last year had an enormous impact on what I am doing. I felt unbelievably connected to my roots, speaking my language and going to temples. I was there to study music and took vocal lessons daily with an amazing guru named Karaikal R. Jaishankar. I can really feel the traces of that in my voice, but also in how I’m thinking about music. We had some very philosophical conversations about music and the divine, what it is to express oneself and all kinds of things. I also saw a concert almost every day of the week, so what I was putting in my ears was unbelievable virtuosic Carnatic improvisation. It was just a mind-blowing summer that was life-changing in many ways. I can really feel its influence, particularly in my solo work.

How did your interest in your work begin?

I came to New York for grad school and got increasingly interested in new music and started working with a lot of composers. As I was doing that, I was also improvising and learning a lot about my own voice, not just as a singer but as an artist. I learned a lot about myself through collaboration with other amazing artists in New York and eventually wanted to break free from always interpreting the work of others and write my own. I had been writing “songs” on and off for years, but they never really felt totally right. At Brooklyn College we had this amazing little cadre of performer-composers called the Sweat Lodge, where we wrote and performed each other’s work. That was when I first started using harmonium outside of the Indian music context and started to write music that sounded more like “myself.” Free improvising with other musicians taught me so much and continued to expand my vocal vocabulary and through adapting to the individuality of others, I started to find myself in juxtaposition. The more I focused on improvising, the more apparent my inclinations and my vision as a composer started to gain some clarity and momentum. I started writing pieces for voice and harmonium and then through the Roulette commission in 2014, I started writing the music for Elder Ones and we did our record in 2016 and having been active since then.

Who would you ideally like to collaborate with and why?

Honestly, I am so happy and excited about the people I am collaborating with now that it’s hard to say. Mary Halvorson, Charlie Looker, Darius Jones, Lea Bertucci, the amazing improvising vocalists I’m going to work with for the second residency concert in June, Emilie Lesbros; Anaïs Maviel; Charmaine Lee; Jean Carla Rodea and of course my band Elder Ones with Max Jaffe and Matt Nelson, who have been in the original line-up and the powerful additional of Nick Dunston; the folks in the Ashley project; Dave Ruder, Gelsey Bell, Aliza Simons, Brian McCorkle and Paul Pinto…I couldn’t be more excited about the people I already get to work with. The collaborations have literally everything to do with who I am as a musician and what I’m doing. If I had to say someone new…I would say Jen Shyu. I think what she does as a vocalist is very in line with what I want to do in my own way. She is so inspiring!

How long have you lived in New York City and what brought you here?

Nine years, which is crazy! I came under the guise of going to school, which was great, but really just to do music and work with people in the scene here. Also pizza?

[RESIDENCY] Amirtha Kidambi: Solo // Elder Ones

What: Two-part performance-as-purge from established experimental vocalist and bandleader, Amirtha Kidambi.
When: Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 8pm
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $15 Online $20 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org // (917) 267-0368

Brooklyn, NY — For her first residency performance of the 2017-2018 season, Amirtha Kidambi performs Yajna, a solo vocal ritual designed as a sacrifice to the metaphoric sacred fire to purge the dark energies of this era. The performance will be followed by Kidambi’s quartet Elder Ones.

Amirtha Kidambi is invested in the performance and creation of music, from free improvisation and  jazz, to experimental bands, and new music. She is a soloist, collaborator, and ensemble member in groups including Charlie Looker’s  early music inspired dark folk band Seaven Teares, Mary Halvorson’s quintet Code Girl, analog percussion and light ensemble Ashcan Orchestra, and Darius Jones’ vocal quartet Elizabeth-Caroline Unit. As an improviser, she has played with Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock, Daniel Carter, Ava Mendoza, William Parker, Trevor Dunn, and many innovators in the New York scene. Recent collaborations include the premiere of AACM founder and composer/pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ Dialogue Social, Darius Jones’ The Oversoul Manual at Carnegie Hall, a premiere of electronic composer Ben Vida’s work Slipping Control for voice and electronics with Tyondai Braxton at the Borderline Festival in Athens, Greece, the premiere of the late Robert Ashley’s final opera CRASH at the Whitney Biennial, a Jazz Gallery commission for Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl, the premiere of William Parker’s Soul of Light and a commission from the Jerome Foundation for her quartet Elder Ones at Roulette and artist residency at EMPAC to record the group’s debut album.

Elder Ones is the quartet performing the compositions of vocalist Amirtha Kidambi. Situated in concentric musical circles and communities in New York City, her collaborators include saxophonist Matt Nelson (Battle Trance/GRID), bassist Nick Dunston (Tyshawn Sorey Trio) and drummer Max Jaffe (JOBS/Peter Evans’ Being and Becoming) have crossed paths in the DIY underground and permutations of free improvisers in clubs and concert halls across New York City. The instrumentalists chosen for this project draw from a wide variety of vocabularies from hip-hop to the avant-garde, each bringing their highly individual language to the group. The quartet uses composed material and loose structures for improvisation, over a bed of Indian harmonium drones and synthesizer. Oscillating between worlds of raga, microtonality, jagged rhythmic precision and punishing brutality, Thyagaraja, Alice Coltrane or Stockhausen could be equally suspect sources of their sound.