Music

‘Beautiful, crazy stream’

Max ZT of the House of Waters says the band’s varied influences culminate in a progressive sound

Travel and technology are shrinking the world, even as cultural boundaries are being redefined. This is especially true in music with newer sounds. Added to this melting pot, is the happening jazz group, House of Waters. The three-member comprising Max ZT, Moto Fukushima and drummer Ignacio Rivas Bixio are originally from Brooklyn, New Yorkan. Max innovated the hammered dulcimer, bassist Moto has a strong background in Jazz improvisation while Ignacio mixes South American rhythms with fusion beats. The trio were in Bengaluru on the invitation of the US Mission in India and Teamwork Arts’ Jazz India Circuit (JIC), a modern-day speakeasy. Jazz aficionados got a peep into newer perspectives in pop, alternative and contemporary music. The House of Waters collaborated with mridanga artiste BC Manjunath for concert at BFlat in Bengaluru.

About the name, Max says with a laugh, “We named the group for a reason. We came together with different influences and like water that takes the shape of its container, our music is channelised into a beautiful, crazy stream. Our influences are from diverse genres, so the culmination is progressive,” says Max.

The group defies categorisation, incorporating elements of West-African folk, jazz, psychedelic, Indie rock, classical and world music. “We bring a versatile brew that personifies modern musical flavours.” The three say they are happy to have found each other, bonding with and embracing fresh melodies.

The hammered dulcimer is integral to the trio. “It is a percussion stringed instrument that takes years to study. It is a part of many cultures across the globe,” Max explains. The instrument is associated with traditional American and Irish folk music. Max has taken the instrument in entirely new directions with the construction, tuning, layout, technique and content. “I use 102 strings, while some older versions have only 90. I’ve been playing it since I was seven, and my family says I would eye the instrument even as a child of two. I saw a performance on the dulcimer at an Irish Music Fest. I walked up and listened to it for hours.”

Taking his cue from Irish folk music, Max has transplanted his compositions to Senegal, where he studied the Mandinko technique with the West African Cissoko Griot family, and India, where he received a grant to study the santoor under Pandit Shivkumar Sharma.

“The santoor must have been an ancestor of the hammered dulcimer and my classes under Sharma will live as a permanent memory,” says Max.

Moto had a similar experience with the six-stringed bass. His study of western classical music, Japanese traditional music and African-inspired music of South America brings in a flavour to the music. Moto has accompanied greats such as Joe Lovano, Mike Stern, and Dave Weckl.

Ignacio was born in Buenos Aires and moved to NYC after graduating from Berklee College of Music. One of the most sought after drummers on the scene, Ignacio elaborates on Indian rhythm.

“ It is superb to listen to the Indian percussive syllables. In the West we don’t follow a language, but learn the beat for its sound. Mixing the syllables in a concert has been one of the most challenging add ons.”

According to Max, his unorthodox experimentation led the group create compositions that pioneered revolutionary Dulcimer techniques. Married to an Indian classical musician, Priya Darshini, with an ear for raags and taals, Max says, “I have used Madhuvanti and Shanmukhapriya in my presentations.” House of Waters has scored for an Emmy-Award winning documentary for ESPN, and has shared the stage with some of the most influential musical leaders of the century including Pandit Ravi Shankar, Victor Wooten, Tinariwen, Jimmy Cliff, Snarky Puppy, Karsh Kale, and more, apart from having released some of their record labels.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 10:05:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/new-contemporary-notes/article25733940.ece

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