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PRASANT RADHAKRISHNAN / VidyA
This amazing group was founded in the fall of 2005. VidyA naturally expresses the essence of Carnatic music and jazz through a unified trio of tenor saxophone, acoustic bass and drums. They released a beautiful new album last year called “In the Source”.
Prasant Radhakrishnan is a versatile saxophonist steeped in both South Indian Classical (Carnatic) and jazz disciplines. The unique vocal texture of his sound on saxophone, noted for its expressive complexity and rhythmic ingenuity, reflects Prasant’s continued study of tradition, constant innovation, and vast concert experience over the past fifteen years.
Prasant’s exceptional approach to his music and instrument has been witnessed in a diverse range of venues and locations around the world: from concert halls in India and jazz venues in Japan, to concerts, cultural festivals, and lecture demonstrations all over North America. Prasant has also lectured in several universities in the U.S., including U.C. Berkeley, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Chicago, and Wellesley among others.
“Prasant is redefining the way to play saxophone, and the way for us to listen to it.” (San Francisco Chronicle).
After Prasant’s move to the Bay Area in 2005, he founded VidyA. VidyA has emerged with a soulful, penetrating sound that pushes the labels of “fusion” or “world music” by merging the virtuosity of jazz with the melodic and rhythmic nuance of Carnatic music. In VidyA’s music, Prasant’s multi-layered compositions infuse the classic jazz sounds of bass, drums, and saxophone with unusual melodic richness. Named among the top jazz acts by the San Francisco Chronicle, VidyA’s seamless hybridity forges new ground in the American jazz scene and serves as a liaison between the worlds of jazz and Indian classical music. It is a style that is heralded as “..madly percussive and sparkling with…a saxophone that switches idioms from second to second, and a warm, quickly picked string bass. The result combines jazz’s sweet dreaminess with the Indian form’s insistent rhythmic and tonal changes…” (San Francisco Weekly). VidyA (2008) is the debut album of his critically acclaimed Carnatic-Jazz trio.
In 2009, Prasant was commissioned by the de Young Museum Cultural Encounters Initiative and Intersection for the Arts to create and perform original work based on a piece of art in the museum, resulting the VidyA composition “Turbulence, Transcendence.” De Young called upon him again in 2010 to perform an original concert commemorating the King Tut Exhibit combining Carnatic, jazz and Middle Eastern musics, in which he worked with Moroccan master musician Rachid Halihal.
In 2010, he was awarded a Zellerbach grant for the creation of new compositions performed by VidyA in 2011. He has also collaborated with a variety of Bay Area artists in various fields, such as Indian classical dance artists Natya, Charlotte Moraga and Rina Mehta. In a 2010 artist residency with Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) Radhakrishnan and Mehta created original work combining Kathak dance with Carnatic, Hindustani and jazz musical traditions culminating in a grand collaborative performance there in May 2010. He has since received grants from National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Sparkplug Foundation and SF Friends of Chamber Music for his original work.