Akshara Music Ensemble accolades include winning the ‘Best World Traditional Song’ award at the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards for Mohana Blues. This is the debut album for Akshara, it has been in the development stage for the last five years and now it’s finally here.
Akshara Music Ensemble was formed in 2008 by Bala Skandan, Carnatic musician, composer and educator. He assembled some of New York’s most adept and spirited voices in the Indian classical music field and set out to explore the convergence of the contemporary and traditional avenues of music. Skandan’s music expresses forms of classical Carnatic/South Indian ragas and talas found in music of the world such as jazz improvisation, through modern composition and creating a type of music as charismatic and high spirited as New York itself.
~”Akshara Creates Space For Evocative Melodic Exploration Among Mathematically Elegant South Indian Rhythms” – Republic of Jazz ~
As the leader of the Akshara Music Ensemble in NYC, Skandan’s original compositions embrace the different styles of Hindustani and Carnatic, as well as various other world music traditions. He is a visionary educator in Carnatic music, and proliferate in teaching students how to perform with the instruments, mridangam, kanjira, solkattu, and violin.
~”Reflective and graciously swinging” -Jazz Weekly ~
“In Time” is evergreen and combines the various styles in to one cohesive expression that embodies the essence of music around the world. The talented gifts of each member unites the different styles and textures of the various instruments to give us a dynamic and rich palate. The music can take you any where.
Such as with “Mind The Gap”….it seems complex but then moves in to a happy uplifting beat. The second track “Mohana Blues”…as mentioned earlier in this review won the “Best World Traditional Song” at the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards. Right so that it should. It sways and moves with an exhilarating tone of royalty with twin cellos. The flute melody is mysterious and all this backed by a depth in the violins that touch the soul. Then we have “Opus in 5” with it’s roots deep in the South Indian feel especially with the Bansuri, rich and distinctive as a focal point in the song.
~”Dynamic, innovative, propulsively cheery instrumentals based on ancient Indian carnatic themes” – New York Music Daily ~
This album weaves a roller-coaster of so many emotions, taking the listener to a high place/plane and to a place of healing almost. As I listened I traveled through various different cultures, countries and spans of time just by envisioning the world in my mind. Magnificent. Truly genius.
Musicians performing on this album and who are members of Akshara Music Ensemble are: Bala Skandan on the Mridangam and Konnakkol. The we have Nitin Mitta on the Tabla, Arun Ramamurthy with the Violin, Trina Basu also on Violin. Then we have Amali Premawardhana with the Cello, Jay Gandhi on the Flute, Max ZT with the Hammered Dulcimer, and Dave Eggar on Cello. The Akshara Music Ensemble presents in the genre or category of World, Indian Classical, Jazz, and or Folk music and would be consider to be similar to Shakti, Trilok Gurtu, John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain.
Instrumentally this album present 7 extremely gifted and artistic musicians. The music flows freely, it is contemporary, masterful, creative and complex…yet modern and rich. This album is on the Blue-Skinned God Records label and was produced by Bala Skandan.
For more information on Bala Skandan and Akshara Music Ensemble you can visit the following sites.