David Ellenbogen has studied and performed music in over a dozen countries including India, Mali, Cuba and Brazil. He has expanded the audience for world music through his radio broadcasts on WKCR, his podcast, NYC Radio Live, and ambitious live productions like the Ragas Live Festival, a 24 hour, 60 musician, experience held at the Rubin Museum of Art and Pioneer Works.
David’s work as a guitarist and artist director of Brooklyn Raga Massive has led to praise in the New York Times for “Preserving the past while blurring genres in an inventive spirit” and the Wall Street Journal for “Expanding the notion of what raga—the immersive, epic form of Indian music—can mean.”
David Ellenbogen is a musician, producer, educator and a New York City radio host. As a guitarist and vocalist he has performed in The Kingdom of Tonga, Ghana, Australia, Thailand, India, and at home in New York. With an open mind and approach, he incorporates world music styles that span continents and centuries.
After earning a Masters degree in education from Columbia University, David began producing concerts and lectures for the Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies. The success of these events caught the eye of legendary producer George Wein, whose achievements include creating the Newport Jazz and Folk and Festivals (in 1954) and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. David was soon hired by Wein and he helped produce dozens of festivals internationally, eventually becoming the Associate Producer of several JVC jazz festivals.
After a few incredible years with Wein, David left to record, study and play music in places like Samoa, Bali, and most significantly, India. In Calcutta, David studied raga intensely with Debashish Bhattacharya, who has been called, “the world’s greatest slide guitarist.” Bhattacharya now refers to David as his “first Western disciple…after which thousands have now followed.”
For over a decade, David has been sharing his love of music by producing and hosting radio shows. He has been on the air at several stations, including a four month stint as a DJ in Ghana, West Africa – with a listening audience of millions. In the past few years, his programs on WKCR 89.9 FM-NY have gathered their own momentum. He created a show, “Ragas Live,” where the greatest names in Indian Classical Music have come to perform live in the studio. Once that show was underway, David expanded his reach to present musicians from all around the world. Scores of Grammy winners have come to speak or play on his shows and his guests have ranged from Walter Becker, founder of Steely Dan, to McCoy Tyner, pianist in John Coltrane’s classic quartet. In June of 2012, “Ragas Live” became a 24 hour live festival. Over 40 world class artists came together to perform 24 different ragas, all live in the studio. The success of this festival led to an invitation to speak at the TEDx conference in East Hampton and 4 years later the festival outgrew the studio and became a live event and broadcast held at venues such as Rubin Museum of Art and Pioneer Works. All 6 years of the festival and highlights of David’s radio shows are available his NYC Radio Live podcast.
David’s interest in raga and sound healing led to the creation of the Acoustic Mandala Project with Bansuri maestro Joshua Geisler. This music has been used world wide for meditation and healing. Josh and David are always surprised to hear the impact the record has had: The great singer Morley has used their tracks for guided visualizations with members of rival gangs in Capetown, South Africa. Dulas have reported using it during childbirth!
Today David is and his team are heralding the 24 hour Ragas Live Festival into its 7th year and the recognition and audience of the festival are growing exponentially. His work as a guitarist and artistic director of Brooklyn Raga Massive has led to praise in the New York Times for “Preserving the past while blurring genres in an inventive spirit” and the Wall Street Journal for “Expanding the notion of what raga—the immersive, epic form of Indian music—can mean.”