Some artists incessantly grumble about the state of the music business, while others just keep creating music and then figure out ways to get it to fans. After numerous releases on Indian labels, pianist Richard X Bennett will make his U.S. label debut on Oct. 6 with two simultaneous releases on Ropeadope Records.
One is a piano trio album, What Is Now, recorded with bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Alex Wyatt. The program includes nine of Bennett’s compositions and an arrangement of the standard “Over The Rainbow.”
The other album, Experiments With Truth, is a quintet disc with Bennett, Armstrong, and Wyatt joined by Matt Parker (tenor and soprano saxophone) and Lisa Parrott (baritone and alto sax).
The recording sessions for the albums were held on two consecutive days at Peter Karl Studio in Brooklyn. Bennett describes the trio disc as leaning toward “groove jazz,” while the quintet album, which is influenced by Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodics, continues his long exploration of Indian raga music in a jazz context.
Bennett launched this exploration with his 2009 solo album Ragas On Piano (Dreams Entertainment). He expanded the instrumentation with the late bassist Gaku Takanashi and tabla master Naren Budhkar on 2011’s Raga & Blues (Mystica Music). His 2013 album, New York City Swara, was picked up by Times Music, India’s biggest label. For that disc, he collaborated with Takanashi, Budhkar, Carnatic violinist Arun Ramamurthy and drummer Michael Wimberly. In 2015 Bennett released the duo album Mumbai Masala with Hindustani vocalist Dhanashree Pandit Rai.
Now he has pushed the concept even further on Experiments With Truth, which he calls “Mingus meets raga in the 21st century.”
Bennett with his trio and quintet will celebrate the release of both albums with an Oct. 11 concert at Rockwood Music Hall, located at 196 Allen Street in New York.