Richard X Bennett has created a soulful blend of jazz piano with raga. The architecture of the raga form allows him to express an extreme variety of moods and emotions, ranging from delicate tenderness to unbridled passion.
Focusing on each note or swara, its sound and significance, RXB has found an intuitive, engaging means of expressing the essence of each raga, with a sound that feels equally at home in Brooklyn or Mumbai. Sometimes stripped down to the sonic core, sometimes rippling with arpeggios, Bennett’s pieces move gracefully between dreamy textures and catchy ballads, between minimalist contemplation and driving groove. “I don’t really consider it purely Indian music because the pianistic part is central,” he reflects.
“It’s really about the piano and how I want the piano to sound.”
One important touchstone for Bennett is the swara, the individual tone and its spiritual resonance. “What interests me in Indian classical music is the meaning of the note,” he explains. “You don’t play all the notes all the time as fast as you can. You play one note and really develop it. When you are ready, you move on to the next note. I am influenced by minimalism in my own music, so it fits well with Indian music. Each raga is a world and you try to get deeper into the world of that particular raga.”
"Master Pianist" - Times of India
RXB’s path to the raga began around twenty years ago with his first trip to India where he was touring as a jazz pianist. Especially fascinated by the melodic contours and spiritual underpinnings of Hindustani Classical Music as well as the virtuosity of its practitioners, his enthusiasm soon translated into new music that quickly achieved both artistic and commercial success. He augmented this artistic journey via vocal studies with the intense Raja Miya, esteemed Ustad of the Agra Gharana with a lineage that dates back seven hundred years.
As a solo artist, RXB has five raga-based releases on Indian labels, (including his personal favorite New York City Swara from Times Music) and has performed his solo music multiple times in concert in Mumbai (Asiatic Society), Pune, Jaipur and Bangalore as well as at the
Rubin Museum and Columbia University in NYC.
“a singularly inventive artist” - Bangalore Mirror
He has also had successful collaborations with Indian Classical musicians. His group with noted thumri singer Dhanashree Pandit-Rai “Mumbai Masala” has performed at The Mumbai Festival, Kalaghoda Festival, Y.B. Chavan Hall as well as numerous other concerts in Maharashtra. Their sole American show was at the University of Rhode Island.
Mumbai Masala's eponymous album was released by Times Music in 2015.
RXB also has an ongoing collaboration with NYC/Kolkata sitarist Indro Roy Chowdhury. They have performed concerts in
Kolkata (Tollygunge Club), NYC and St Louis.
Richard X Bennett's favorite ragas are Miyan Ki Malhar, Puriya Dhanashree, Marwa and Hamsadhwani
His favorite Bollywood song is Tum Hi Ho, which he recorded with his jazz trio. Listen HERE
“hypnotic" John Schaefer, WNYC
"often evokes the focused ferocity of the singers
of Hindustani music" Richard Gehr, Village Voice
“His playing is full of moments of lyricism, drama
and decoration." Raul da Gama, World Music Report
"The music hangs together with a kind of brilliance"
Gapplegate Music Review