Natraj seamlessly melds the classical music of India, traditional music from West Africa, and contemporary jazz to create its own unique and infectious style. Hard-driving African grooves and graceful Indian ragas meet in the band’s expansive jazz conception. Selected as Boston’s Best Jazz Band by the Improper Bostonian and nominated Best World Music Act in the Boston Music Awards, Natraj captivates and excites audiences with exotic textures, accessible melodies, and rhythmic energy.
Natraj has delighted listeners throughout the US, Canada, India, and West Africa since 1987. Appearances include India’s JazzYatra and Prayojana International Music Festival; Ghana’s PANAFEST; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Guelph Jazz Festival, Guelph, Canada; and The Boston Globe Jazz and Blues Festival. Natraj has performed with icons of Indian classical music including Kadri Gopalnath, Chitravina N. Ravikiran, Shashank, Ronu Majumdar, and Trichy Sankaran, as well as younger masters like Aditya Kalyanpur and Prasanna.
Natraj has released four CDs to acclaim in the international press and airplay worldwide. Numerous radio and TV appearances include featured segments on the USA nationally syndicated program, The World (PRI/BBC/WGBH-FM); Doordarshan (Indian National TV); Maine Things Considered (Maine Public Radio, USA); South Asian Newsweek (CFMT-TV, Toronto); and Radio Mid-Day (Mumbai, India).
Natraj features the raga-influenced soprano saxophone of Phil Scarff; the emotive inflections of ECM recording artist and violist Mat Maneri; the warm, nimble solidity of bassist Mike Rivard; the tabla and multipercussion mastery of Jerry Leake; and high-energy groove of drummer Bertram Lehmann.
“Natraj blends complex tempos and traditions with graceful, unforced virtuosity… a hypnotic, symbiotic tapestry. Fusion is rarely this deep and exotic yet accessible… discover a new world here.” — The Boston Globe
“Technical excellence and sensitive musicianship transcend national and cultural boundaries, and there is clearly an abundance of both on this recording… Compares favorably with Shakti... Every performer displays both a melodic and technical flair… The performances on this album are everywhere excellent.” — Cadence
“[This] Boston group doesn’t simply draw on Indian influences some of the time—it specializes in a seamless blend of jazz and Indian music... [Natraj] embraces both Western and Indian instruments… delightfully unconventional.” — Jazziz
“We heard the future of jazz... we heard the future of world music... a spellbinding tapestry... a jazz hybrid of celebration and reflection.” — The Times of India
“East meets West and South in the music of the Boston-based band Natraj. The quintet plays contemporary jazz with intoxicating Indian influences and entrancing African rhythms, hypnotically combining instruments from the three regions into eerie and original music.” — WBUR-FM, Boston, MA