An Inteview with composer and percussionist Ravish Momin
| Various articles | 2006-06-29
| Band leader, composer and percussionist Ravish Momin is a very special musical personality. While standing firmly into his profound native culture he is continously looking to innovate with various forms of music, rhytmic treatments and techniques. Last year his talented Trio recorded "Five Nights", a collection of 5 "tales" or musical explorations. Whether one calls this music fusion or world fusion, the result is quite impressive.|
In an interview with JazzWorldQuest.com he talks about globalization of music and his musical projects.
JWQ: What do you think about a trend to a so called global cultural hybridization , or maybe to a meltdown of musical styles into an amorphous "world" music?
Ravish Momin: I think it's inevitable, really. Let me first be clear that by cultural hybridization, I am not referring to "homogenization of cultures." On the surface level, yes, the blending of pop music with various cultures somehow leads to a homegenous "world-pop" sound, which can be heard on radio stations from Taiwan to the Czech Republic to Peru.
What you refer to as a "meltdown of styles" is something deeper, having more culture-specific resonances. As more and more people from different countries are in contact with one another's music, they are finding ways to extract inspiration and blend it with their own experiences, instead of purely the addition of a token cultural element, as is also often seen. I think that this "meltdown" is most easily expressed in so-called Jazz, as Jazz has always been based on improvisation, the individual voices, and a confluence of cultural ideas.
I'm interested in taking something of the essence of a musical genre, and organically blending it with other ideas. This is such a personal experience, and depends on one's rootedness in one specific music or not. "Amorphous" world music in the true sense, can only be created under conditions of total objectivity of all influences and having no pre-set musical agendas. While arguably few artists have been interested in this notion in the past, I do think that there is a real committment from more and more musicians to explore these boundaries.
JWQ: Your musical influences are very diverse yet your rich Indian cultural heritage is strong enough to distill them into a personal universe. Are you attracted more to a specific culture than to another? What are your main influences?
Ravish Momin: As I was saying, one has to be be committed to a "real objectiveness." For myself, I really don't prefer one culture over another, though I'll always have roots in Indian Music. My tastes range from all types of World Music, to Death Metal, Electronica, Rock, Funk, Classical, Fado, Folk, and anything else I can come across in the Library archives!
JWQ: You came back recently from a long tour in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Italy and Portugal. Did you have musical encountres with local musicians? How was the audience there, their understanding, how did they react to your music?
Ravish Momin: We were mostly doing club dates, so we didn't really come across too many other musicians, except for Hungary. We did a double bill with the Great Hungarian-Jazz drummer Balazs Elemer, who has found a fantastic approach to combining Jazz with his Hungarian Folk roots. The audiences' responses were enthusiastic across the board, and it re-confirmed for me, I daresay, the "universality" in my music. Though, unfortunately, in a few places due to lack of heavy promotion, or not having wider recognition, turnout was a little thin. Our most well attended concerts were in Portugal.
JWQ: Interplay and interaction is crucial for a band whose members have different cultural personalities How did this work for Trio Tarana?
Ravish Momin: Oh yeah, that's critical! All my influences aside, I am also open to what Jason and Shanir are bringing in, and really the band more than the sum of the parts. Of course, I bring in all the compositions, however, once we've begun rehearsing it, all sorts of ideas/arrangements/changes are suggested by the others, and we find a way to incorporate them. This band is very much about who's in the band, and I write with them in mind. So finding a substitute for a performance isn't even really an option!
JWQ: Do Indian rhythms need a special musical knowledge in order to understand them?
Ravish Momin: Yes, a little would help. I don't mean that one has to rigorously study Indian music to appreicate it! For example, on first listen to a tabla player, a western person might have no idea what's going on! They would just hear fast intricate fingerwork! However, if one has basic understanding of rhythm cycles and devices used to count time, the tabla player's ingenuity and skill can be better appreciated. Traditionally speaking, the Indian sense of time is circular, while the Western sense is linear, and the African sense is polyrhythmic.
JWQ: What other fusion projects do you have?
Ravish Momin: I work in a project called Ursel Schlict's "ExTempore" which is temporarily on hiatus. This project is a larger-scale project and involves Balla Kouyate, a fantastic Balafon Player from Mali, the great flutist Jamie Baum, Ursel Schlicht on piano, Thomson Kneeland on bass, and me on percussion and drums. It's definitely more Jazz-based, but is also open to each member's compositions and cultures. I'm a very stylized drummer, so I can't help but bring my way of playing to whatever music I'm playing, so it's a gift and a curse at the same time! :- )
June 5 2006