Jazz saxophonist opens Lula World 2006

Sax man and music Professor Sundar Viswanathan (right) will be here, there and everywhere in the next few months and you would need a passport to keep pace with him. His journey starts from downtown Toronto, is followed by a tour of Europe this summer and ends in South Africa in September.

Hard on the heels of his appearance yesterday on City TV’s “Breakfast Television”, Viswanathan will join CBC Radio One’s “Here and Now” host, York alumnus Matt Galloway (BA ’94) on air this afternoon to promote his upcoming performances at Lula World 2006, a celebration of world music at Toronto’s Lula Lounge, and play some Indo-jazz grooves.

Viswanathan opens Lula World 2006 tomorrow with a program of Bollywood music performed with his York colleague Devika Mathur, a vocalist and “Canadian Idol” finalist, as well as tabla player and percussionist Gurpreet Chana and bassist Chris Gartner. The opening night also features other Bollywood musicians and DJ Medicine Man, host of the popular CIUT 89.5 FM show “No Man’s Land”. The event is a fundraiser for the Monayr Asha Foundation. “Monayr Asha means ‘hope from the heart’ in Bengali,” says Viswanathan. “Proceeds from this concert will be used to help send kids to school in Bangladesh.”

On May 8, Viswanathan returns to the Lula Lounge with The Avataar Collective, to serve up a sonic stew of Indo-jazz melodies and improv-based South Asian grooves. His band consists of York music student and vocalist Felicity Williams; music instructor and tabla player/composer Ravi Naimpally; John Kameel Farah on keyboards and synthesizer; Rakesh Tewai on drums; and York alumnus Michael Morse (MFA ’87, MA ’90, PhD ’96) on bass. This appearance is also part of Lula World 2006.

Lula World 2006 coincides with the South Asian Music Festival celebrating South Asian Heritage Month in May.

In July and August, Viswanathan will be touring Europe as co-director of Jazz Camereta, a jazz septet of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. The orchestra’s 110 musicians will play with leading conductors and receive coaching from distinguished musicians during a tour to Berlin, Brussels, Riva del Garda in Italy and Menton, France.

In September, Viswanathan heads to South Africa to present a paper on the improvisation style of American tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson at the South African Jazz Educators conference.

Raised in Sudbury, Ont., with Tamil South Indian roots, Viswanathan is a highly versatile musician, well-known as saxophonist, composer, multi-reed instrumentalist and vocalist. He has performed with a who’s who of leading Indo-Canadian and American musicians and ensembles, including Rez Abbasi, Juno-winner Kiran Ahluwahlia, Autorickshaw, Ragaffaire and Tasa. As well, he has jammed with jazz legends Wynton Marsalis, Charles Tolliver, Sun Ra and Donald Byrd. He joined York’s Department of Music in 2001, where he teaches jazz.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.