Press

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 1.17.50 AM

In the New York Times
New York Times

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.50.11 PM In the Wall St. Journal

An interview with David Ellenbogen

Brooklyn Raga Massive, now a globally recognized musician’s collective, is made up of world class, forward thinking musicians rooted in Indian classical music. After a rousing performance at our recent Block Party, Brooklyn Raga Massive will return to the Rubin for two special shows. On August 12, they will bring their well-known Wednesday Night Jam session to the Museum, and onAugust 28, the BRM All Stars will perform the piece credited with creating minimalism: Terry Riley’s composition “In C”.

We caught up with musician, producer, and radio host David Ellenbogen of Brooklyn Raga Massive to tell us about raga’s mass appeal, what Indian classical music has in common with Philip Glass and yoga, and why the group can’t seem to get enough of the Rubin.

How would you describe Brooklyn Raga Massive and your influences?

Brooklyn Raga Massive is an artist’s collective of musicians who are inspired by and dedicated to the Indian classical tradition. There is something magical happening right now. There is a new generation of musicians who are disciples of some of the greatest living Indian Classical musicians, but who also speak the languages of jazz, funk, reggae—not as outsiders, but as insiders of both traditions. Sameer Gupta is a great example of this, touring relentlessly with jazz icon Marc Cary but also deeply studying with one of the greatest tabla players in the world, Anindo Chatterjee. To me, Brooklyn Raga Massive is providing a platform and home for this kind of germination of new styles and languages. It’s also finding new audiences for traditional classical music by keeping the atmosphere festive and fun. At our weekly jam sessions we have new styles emerging, there are Africa/India nights, chamber raga groups and much more. People in India are paying attention to what’s happening in Brooklyn and the term “raga renaissance” has floated around the press there.

I am amongst the members who are not as steeped in that classical tradition, but I find endless inspiration and beauty in it. My background as a musician is to study the music wherever I travel, and luckily that has been in India, Mali, Ghana, Brazil and a few other spots. I also play Western styles from Bach to Stevie Wonder. Generally when I join the BRM on stage, I’m introducing a groove element. For example, I can’t imagine anything prettier than the sound of an Afro-Brazilian Bahiana with, say, an Indian, bansuri flute.

Brooklyn Raga Massive performs at the Rubin Block Party. Photo: Lyn Hughes
Brooklyn Raga Massive performs at the Rubin Block Party. Photo: Lyn Hughes

For those who have never heard it before, how would you describe raga music?

Literally, they say raga means “to color the mind.” The music is very subtle and precise in order to capture a specific mood to match a specific time of day. There are evening ragas (which may be more romantic) and morning ragas (which may be more energizing or devotional) and so on. It harmonizes you. The pieces begin by slowly introducing each note with a reverence and respect for sound and place that is almost the antithesis of our modern lifestyle. By the end, the music is an explosion of virtuosity and intensity. It’s a journey and much like with yoga, you feel better afterwards.

Who might like traditional raga that you wouldn’t necessarily expect?

I know two people who are both into something called death metal as well as Indian raga!

Tell us about Terry Riley’s “In C” and your decision to perform it. What can people expect at that concert?

Terry Riley’s “In C” is an amazing piece and is often credited for creating the style of music called minimalism, which is associated with Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The piece has forty cells of music, short phrases, which are played progressively by the musicians at any time as long as they stay within three or four of the rest of the group. They can come in anywhere on the beat, or multiply or divide the rhythm as they see musically fit….What this creates is a harmonious sea of music, with moments of amazing beauty. The experience could be considered psychedelic, I suppose…especially when combined with psychedelics! It makes a lot of sense to have Indian instruments performing this as Riley was very influenced by raga and studied it quite deeply. However, he has told us that as far as he knows, Brooklyn Raga Massive is the first group of its kind to perform this piece. He responded positively to a clip we sent him and encouraged us to improvise more. It meant a lot to us to get his feedback, and recently we have been approached by a record label we’re fans of that wants to release our version.

You’ve had a history of playing at the Rubin Museum (most recently at our Block Party) – is there anything in particular that you like about performing here? What makes it a special place?

Performing at the Rubin is a dream come true for us because there is no other cultural institution in NYC so focused on the same ideals. At its best this style of music takes you to the Himalayas—the Rubin certainly does that. In future collaborations we hope to engage more directly and specifically with the artwork: like facets of a diamond, there are a million symphonies in every mandala.

Brooklyn Raga Massive will perform at the Rubin for a special show and jam session on August 12 and an interpretation of “In C” on August 28.

David Ellenbogen is a musician, producer and radio host. His most recent production was last month’s Ragas Live Festival, a 24 hour radio broadcast of Indian Raga, in which over eighty world-class musicians performed live in the studio. You can hear the entire festival and much more at his podcast NYC Radio Live. David will also appear as our guest DJ in the K2 Lounge on August 14.

NYC Radio Live/ Africa/India Series in the Press

AFRO POP WORLDWIDE:

AFRICA MEETS INDIA IN BROOKLYN

Africa India PW

Already home to Clocktower Radio—which broadcasts the unparalleled Brazilian music show “Sonoridad”Pioneer Works in Brooklyn is adding another massive feather to its musical cap: a three-month residency of African and Indian musical collaboration.

The Indian classical music collective Brooklyn Raga Massive is launching the residency at the gallery and event space in Brooklyn that will bring together some incredible artists from seemingly disparate musical traditions.

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Awa Sango

The residency kicks off on Feb. 3 with a triple bill that comprises the golden voice of Mali, Awa Sangho, a kora/tabla duo, the Brooklyn Massive All-Stars, and the (their emphasis) original pioneers of the genre, Afrika Meets India, whose lineup includes an mbira, bansuri, kora, sitar and tabla, as well as percussion.

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Afrika Meets India

Brooklyn Raga Massive has been presenting this concert series for over a year now, so you may have chanced upon an episode as it was broadcast on WKCR 89.9 FM in New York, and those out of the range of Columbia University’s radio station can judge the results for themselves via the podcast nycradiolive.org.

Of course, long-time Afropop listeners know just how potent this combination can be, and how despite the distance, there’s been cross pollination between the Asian subcontinent and the African continent over the years. For others, this is a chance for not just good music but an education.

“The Africa/India series has been really successful at bring African music fans to Indian music and Indian music fans to African music,” says producer, radio host and BRM guitarist David Ellenbogen. “Both of these musics have a lot of common ground and complementary elements, it’s been amazing to hear the synergy and joyous to see such diverse audiences coming together.”

According to the event’s press release, “BRM’s Pioneer Works residency will consist of multidisciplinary performances, recording sessions, educational offerings and podcasts. On every Wednesday in February, March and April, BRM will bring their weekly series to Pioneer Works with greatly expanded programming, including themed nights (Women’s Night, Dance, Africa/India), tributes to musical legends from East (Ravi Shankar) and West (George Harrison) and special guest artists, such as Pt. Krishna Bhatt, Karsh Kale and Kiran Ahluwalia. Before each concert, BRM will host related workshops and film screenings, while during the concert, Bombay Sandwich Co. will provide delicious culinary offerings.”

Anyone in the area should definitely check it out—we’ll keep the Afropop calendar updated—and anyone outside of the area who wants to check it out can do so online.

 

Brooklyn  Raga Massive In The Press

Wall St

BROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (link to full article)

“WHILE LISTENERS OF A CERTAIN GENERATION MIGHT RECOGNIZE SITARIST RAVI SHANKAR OR RECALL HOW BANDS LIKE THE BEATLES AND ROLLING STONES USED INDIAN INSTRUMENTATION ON SOME OF THEIR ’60S HITS, BRM MEMBERS SEEK TO REDEFINE CLASSICAL INDIAN MUSIC IN THE NEW CENTURY.” – ANDY BETA OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“EXPANDING THE NOTION OF WHAT RAGA—THE IMMERSIVE, EPIC FORM OF INDIAN MUSIC—CAN MEAN.” – WALL ST. JOURNAL

BROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

“FEW MUSICAL HANGS HAVE BEEN AS DEPENDABLY REWARDING AS BROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE’S JAM SESSIONS WHICH FEATURE THE CREAM OF THE LOCAL INDIAN CLASSICAL COMMUNITY.” – RICHARD GEHR FOR THE VILLAGE VOICE

BROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE IN THE NEW YORKER

“LEADERS OF THE RAGA RENAISSANCE” – THE NEW YORKER

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 11.02.28 AMBROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE IN NEWS INDIA TIMES

Though a tradition takes years to establish itself, a group of Indian raga enthusiasts are well on their way to making one for their increasingly multi-ethnic, and hip central Brooklyn neighborhood.” – News India Times

 

“BRILLIANT YOUNG SUPERSTARS-IN-THE-MAKING” –NORWALK DAILY VOICE

“WITH A MOVING ART IMAGE INSTALLATION PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND AND A QUIET ROOM, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO RESIST THE MUSICALLY-GUIDED SPIRITUAL TAKEOVER.” – CRUSHINGVINYL.COM

“ BEAUTIFUL AND HEART RENDERING BEYOND DESCRIPTION…IT WAS DIFFICULT TO TAKE NOTES BECAUSE THE MUSIC BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES.”

DOOBEEDOOBEEDOO NY

Time Out NY Critic’s Pic:

Terry Riley composed his landmark minimalist composition In C well before he developed an interest in Indian music, but the fit—as seen by Brooklyn Raga Massive—is a natural. The ensemble, which mixes traditional and innovative approaches to Indian music, performs the piece with Riley’s blessing.

The musical collective takes classical Indian music and insert moments of jazz, funk, and reggae.”  -WNYC’s Soundcheck

“BRM co-founder David Ellenbogen, who hails from White Plains, N.Y. spent part of his career in music production, working with producer George Wein on the Newport Jazz Festival and other similar events, but soon found himself enchanted with classical Indian music.

“As soon as I heard the tambura of Indian music, it made something inside me stand up,” Mr. Ellenbogen, 38, said of the stringed instrument often used to create a harmonic drone. “It was like a metaphor of enlightenment. Maybe it has to do with the overtones, but when I heard that music, I was inspired to travel to India.” In addition to playing in the Raga Massive, he also hosts the raga program “Raag Aur Taal” on WKCR, the Columbia University radio station.

-Wall Street Journal

 

Coverage of the Ragas Live Festival (very similar articles)

News India Times

First Ever Marathon Live Radio Broadcast of Indian Ragas

By Ela Dutt

 

pandita

Years ago while traveling around the world, David Ellenbogen, executive producer at New York City’s WKCR radio station, ended up in Calcutta, “at the feet” of Debashish Bhattacharya” whom he describes as “the greatest guitarist in the world” and the experience as akin to “climbing the Himalayas.”

He was bowled over by the immense respect he saw Indians give to ragas, Ellenbogen told Desi Talk. That’s driven him to keep promoting Indian music of all genres on his radio station. On June 20th, that love is manifesting itself in a 24-hour marathon of Indian ragas broadcast live over his radio station, the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere according to Neel Murgai, founder of Brooklyn RagaMassive, one of several Indian-American music groups that thrive in Manhattan and surrounding boroughs. Ellenbogen calls it “a renaissance” of Indian ragas in the Big Apple. Ellenbogen also has a 72 hours of ragas on his podcast site at nycradiolive.org, which includes his recordings of music from around the world.

The Ragas Live Festival 2015 is in its fourth year and features more than 60 musicians, some of them world renowned, performing live at studios around the city and broadcast on WKCR at 89.9 FMNY, midnight to midnight. This will be followed on June 21st by free concerts in Central Park Dairy Lawn, according to a release from the groups behind the whole effort which include Afro Roots NYC, Anindo Chatterjee School of Tabla, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Carnatic Sundays, Chhandayan Center for Indian Music, HarmoNYom, Krishna Bhatt’s Gurukul, Navatman, NYC Radio Live, and Shastra & Taalim School of Indian Music. The event is part of Make Music NY or MMNY,

Several maestros are coming from India including Pandita Tripti Mukherjee , Ustad Aashish Khan , Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt , Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan , Sanghamitra Chatterjee , and Pandit Samir Chatterjee.

“Each  raga is meant to be played and heard at a certain time of the day and night. So you can hear the late night ragas late at night and the morning ragas in the morning,” Murgai told Desi Talk.

Alongside will be emerging performers in the city with classical and new genres such as, Yacouba Sissoko, a Kora player from Mali will perform with bansuri player Jay Gandhi representing the monthly Africa/India Collaboration concerts produced at Brooklyn Raga Massive events. Chamber Raga, a form being explored by musician Karavika will be featured. Prodigy Vivek Pandya who made hisRagas Live debut with a 45 minute solo at 8 years old, will now perform at 10 years old with the maestros Samarth Nagarkar (vocal) and Abhik Mukherjee (sitar).

Murgai said because the studios where the musicians will be playing for the live broadcast are small, no audiences can attend. Which is why this year free performances and workshops are scheduled to be held in Central Park on June 21.

NEW DELHI: More than sixty musicians will take part in a marathon 24-hour festival of Indian ragas is to be broadcast live on New York’s WKCR 89.9 FM Radio Station from 20 June featuring Indian and international artistes.

The event has been conceived by David Ellenbogen, who is Executive Producer at WKCR, and who says he is fascinated by the respect Indian musicians give to ragas.

According to a press release on the station’s website, the Fourth Ragas LiveFestival will have the artistes performing live at studios around the city and broadcast on WKCR midnight to midnight. This will be followed on 21 June by free concerts in Central Park Dairy Lawn.

The event is produced by WKCR, in collaboration with 13 leading organizations- Afro Roots NYC, Anindo Chaterjee School of Tabla, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Carnatic Sundays, Chhandayan, HarmoNYom, Krishna Bhatt’s Gurukul, Navatman, NYC Radio Live, Shastra & Taalim School of Indian Music.

Ellenbogen said, “We are experiencing a raga renaissance in New York City. There are so many amazing musicians collaborating within and beyond the genre. This festival is a result of that and has gained a growing international audience. From what I understand, even in India, they have not produced in-studio broadcasts on this scale.”

Artistes coming from India include Pandita Tripti Mukherjee, Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Sanghamitra Chatterjee, and Pandit Samir Chatterjee.

Alongside will be emerging performers in the city with classical and new genres such as Yacouba Sissoko, a Kora player from Mali will perform with bansuri player Jay Gandhi representing the monthly Africa/India collaboration concerts produced at Brooklyn Raga Massive events. Chamber Raga, a form being explored by musician Karavika will be featured.

Prodigy Vivek Pandya who made his Ragas Live debut with a 45 minute solo will perform with maestros Samarth Nagarkar (vocal) and Abhik Mukherjee (sitar).

World Music Day: The Ragas Live Festival in New York to hold 24-hour long Indian classical music marathon!

Thu, June 18, 2015 3:42pm IST by 

World Music Day: The Ragas Live Festival in New York to hold 24-hour long Indian classical music marathon!

The music concert will be held at Central Park…

A unique 24-hour Indian classical music marathon, the Ragas Live Festival, with a multi-national and multi-ethnic cast of over 60 musicians is set to be broadcast this weekend here and streamed live on the Internet for listeners around the world. It is billed as longest broadcast of Indian classical performed live. “From what I understand, even in India, they have not produced in-studio broadcasts on this scale,” Executive Producer David Ellenbogen said.

This is the fourth Raga Festival and this year it will add a six-and-a-half-hour free concert at the Central Park on Sunday, which is the day of the Summer Solstice. Sunday is also International Day of Yoga when there will be a yoga session in Times Square with the expected participation of 30,000 people. The Raga Festival is not a part of that program, but it also reflects the growing interest in Indian culture here.

“We are experiencing a raga renaissance in New York City,” Ellenbogen said. “There are so many amazing musicians collaborating within and beyond the genre. This festival is a result of that and has gained a growing international audience.” The festival is a collaboration between Columbia University radio station WKCR 89.9 FM-NY and 13 other organisations.

The marathon will be streamed live on www.wkcr.org and it will be archived at the station’s website and at www.nycradiolive.org for listeners to hear it later. A vocal by Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan will start the marathon broadcast, at 11:59 p.m. Friday night New York Time (Saturday, 9:29 a.m. IST) and will end at midnight Saturday (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. IST) with a vocal by Pandita Tripti Mukherjee.

Among the featured musicians are Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Sanghamitra Chatterjee, and Pandit Samir Chatterjee. Besides Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, the new genres and the collaboration across traditions that are emerging in New York will be represented at the festival.

Yacouba Sissoko from Mali who plays the kora, a 21-string instrument from West Africa, is to perform with Jay Gandhi on the bansuri and Ellenbogen on the guitar. Sissko and Bansuri perform at the monthly Africa/India Collaboration concerts produced at Brooklyn Raga Massive events.

Carnatic compositions in jazz interpretations by Arun Ramamurthy Trio (ART) and Chamber Raga form by Karavika are also on the programme.http://www.economylead.com/entertainment/24-hour-indian-classical-music-marathon-in-new-york-over-weekend-77910

24-hour Indian classical music marathon in New York over weekend

on

June 18, 2015

A unique 24-hour Indian classical music marathon, the Ragas Live Festival, with a multi-national and multi-ethnic cast of over 60 musicians is set to be broadcast this weekend here and streamed live on the Internet for listeners around the world.

It is billed as longest broadcast of Indian classical performed live. “From what I understand, even in India, they have not produced in-studio broadcasts on this scale,” Executive Producer David Ellenbogen said.

This is the fourth Raga Festival and this year it will add a six-and-a-half-hour free concert at the Central Park on Sunday, which is the day of the Summer Solstice.

Sunday is also International Day of Yoga when there will be a yoga session in Times Square with the expected participation of 30,000 people. The Raga Festival is not a part of that program, but it also reflects the growing interest in Indian culture here.

“We are experiencing a raga renaissance in New York City,” Ellenbogen said. “There are so many amazing musicians collaborating within and beyond the genre. This festival is a result of that and has gained a growing international audience.”

The festival is a collaboration between Columbia University radio station WKCR 89.9 FM-NY and 13 other organisations.

The marathon will be streamed live on www.wkcr.org and it will be archived at the station’s website and at www.nycradiolive.org for listeners to hear it later.

A vocal by Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan will start the marathon broadcast, at 11:59 p.m. Friday night New York Time (Saturday, 9:29 a.m. IST) and will end at midnight Saturday (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. IST) with a vocal by Pandita Tripti Mukherjee.

Among the featured musicians are Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Sanghamitra Chatterjee, and Pandit Samir Chatterjee.

Besides Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, the new genres and the collaboration across traditions that are emerging in New York will be represented at the festival.

Yacouba Sissoko from Mali who plays the kora, a 21-string instrument from West Africa, is to perform with Jay Gandhi on the bansuri and Ellenbogen on the guitar. Sissko and Bansuri perform at the monthly Africa/India Collaboration concerts produced at BrooklynRaga Massive events.

Carnatic compositions in jazz interpretations by Arun Ramamurthy Trio (ART) and Chamber Raga form by Karavika are also on the programme.

 

:

http://www.bollywoodlife.com/news-gossip/world-music-day-the-ragaslive-festival-in-new-york-to-hold-24-hour-long-indian-classical-music-marathon/

24-hour Indian classical music marathon in New York over weekend

on

June 18, 2015

A unique 24-hour Indian classical music marathon, the Ragas Live Festival, with a multi-national and multi-ethnic cast of over 60 musicians is set to be broadcast this weekend here and streamed live on the Internet for listeners around the world.

It is billed as longest broadcast of Indian classical performed live. “From what I understand, even in India, they have not produced in-studio broadcasts on this scale,” Executive Producer David Ellenbogen said.

This is the fourth Raga Festival and this year it will add a six-and-a-half-hour free concert at the Central Park on Sunday, which is the day of the Summer Solstice.

Sunday is also International Day of Yoga when there will be a yoga session in Times Square with the expected participation of 30,000 people. The Raga Festival is not a part of that program, but it also reflects the growing interest in Indian culture here.

“We are experiencing a raga renaissance in New York City,” Ellenbogen said. “There are so many amazing musicians collaborating within and beyond the genre. This festival is a result of that and has gained a growing international audience.”

The festival is a collaboration between Columbia University radio station WKCR 89.9 FM-NY and 13 other organisations.

The marathon will be streamed live on www.wkcr.org and it will be archived at the station’s website and at www.nycradiolive.org for listeners to hear it later.

A vocal by Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan will start the marathon broadcast, at 11:59 p.m. Friday night New York Time (Saturday, 9:29 a.m. IST) and will end at midnight Saturday (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. IST) with a vocal by Pandita Tripti Mukherjee.

Among the featured musicians are Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Sanghamitra Chatterjee, and Pandit Samir Chatterjee.

Besides Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, the new genres and the collaboration across traditions that are emerging in New York will be represented at the festival.

Yacouba Sissoko from Mali who plays the kora, a 21-string instrument from West Africa, is to perform with Jay Gandhi on the bansuri and Ellenbogen on the guitar. Sissko and Bansuri perform at the monthly Africa/India Collaboration concerts produced at BrooklynRaga Massive events.

Carnatic compositions in jazz interpretations by Arun Ramamurthy Trio (ART) and Chamber Raga form by Karavika are also on the programme.