Throughout today’s Europe, music is in motion, and the sounds emanating from Paris, Barcelona and London are a powerful motif for the continent’s growing cultural diversity. Add to that list Cologne, home to percussionist Ramesh Shotham, and his rhythm tour de force Madras Special.
He’s a native of the bustling city of Chennai (formerly Madras), and a lifelong disciple of carnatic music, the classicaltradition of South India, revered for its rhythmic sophistication and its unique family of percussion instruments such as mridangam, tavil, ghatam, dholak and kanjira.
Based in Europe since the 80’s, he has been a charismatic ambassador for his tradition, performing with diverse artists like Lebanese oud virtuoso Rabih Abou Khalil and jazz provocateur Steve Coleman, as well as previous visits to Ireland for memorable performances with the jazz/traditional group Khanda.
With Madras Special, he creates a living mandala of sound and rhythm, drawing on the vivid personalities of vocalist Sandhya Sanjana, herself steeped in Indian folklore, Budapest’s Zoltan Lantos, a virtuoso of Hungary’s classical and gypsy violin tradition, and leading German bassist Christian Zürner.