In Sanskrit, Samdhi means "that which combines or unites" or "the interval between day and night." In more traiditonal Hindu terms, it refers to the period between the end of one age (or yuga) and the dawn of another. For Rudresh this project represents a new direction in combing the complex melodic and rhythmic elements of both Carnatic (South Indian) music and the traditions of jazz within an electro-acoustic format consisting of alto saxophone with electronics, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums. A direct result, of his research as a Guggenheim fellow, this new work will deeply engage the listener while breaking new ground in the multicultural landscape of modern music.
"Combining elements of traditional Indian harmonies and rhythms with unhinged jazz improvisation, electronics and occasional drum 'n' bass grooves, the nearly 90-minute piece was a landmark convergence of styles that didn't lend itself to easy analysis. That's due, in large part, to the fact that new music of this caliber hasn't been attempted before."
Samdhi, in its debut live performance, proved that there is an almost spell-like power lent to jazz when profoundly creative musicians choose to apply an ancient modal and rhythmic grammar to their abilities. As though, by repeating and reworking these musical phrases, Mahanthappa & Co. were able to conjure something both ancient and futuristic; a musical golem, assembled from the air by the nonverbal speaking of a Sanskrit word: Samdhi."
The way [Steve Coleman] dealt with West African drummers and integrating it conceptually into [his band] Five Elements, definitely served as an inspiration for the way I want to deal with Indian music," Mahanthappa says. "[I want to] recontextualize it and create some sort of hybrid."