Free Planet Radio
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Free Planet Radio

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Band World Jazz

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"Experience World Fusion with Free Planet Radio"

Experience world fusion with Free Planet Radio
Asheville Citizen-Times, by Carol Mallett-Rifkin
July 16, 2004

For music that is beautiful, complex, diverse and played by masters of their instruments, look no further than the trio of Chris Rosser, River Guerguerian and Eliot Wadopian. Collectively they're a world fusion trio called Free Planet Radio and the sum of the whole is pretty powerful, especially considering the strength of the parts.

All three are educated and experienced masters of their groove, skilled craftsmen who come together with some pretty powerful sounds that cross from East to West with jazzy and sometimes dizzying forays into odd times, syncopations and electronic sounds.


This weekend's CD release party at the Grey Eagle kicking off their debut alum "New Bedouin Dance" is a chance to hear the three live, on home turf.

"I think it's sort of a new genre, different music," said Rosser. "Not too many groups are blending jazz with world and classical music," he said. "There are a lot of world fusion bands but this has a really technically skilled sound, it's not a jam band," said Rosser.

Best known as a successful singer songwriter and record producer in the region, Rosser has produced more than 30 records in his studio for successful performers like David LaMotte, Josh Lamkin, Beth Wood, Billy Jonas and Laura Blackley, and is nationally known for his own writing and recording.

The trio formed originally as a more predictable one, with percussionist Guerguerian and bass player Wadopian backing up singer and guitar player Rosser on solo gigs. "River and Eliot both are like a songwriter and composer's dream," said Rosser. "They can play anything and read music really well." All three studied jazz and classical music and it was a natural progression to become friends and move to an experimental place musically. "It started out being about me but now we share it all equally in the trio," said Rosser.

"River really has the ability to step into the mood of the song with hand drums, or a drum kit, shakers, all the percussion," he said. "Eliot sticks to mostly upright bass but there a few electric bass pieces," said Rosser, who adds an astonishing array of exotic instruments to the record including Indian dotar, Turkish instruments, guitars, pianos, a melodica and harmonium.

Guerguerian was born in Montreal to Armenian/ Egyptian/Syrian parents and is well grounded in the music of the Middle East and India. Growing up in New York City and graduating from the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory, he's played with everyone from unknown masters to the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ziggy Marley and the Gypsy Kings. A five year stint in the Himalayas communing with nature prepared him for the move to Asheville in '99, just in time to become a really important influence in the growing percussive drum movement here.

Grammy winner Wadopian is on the musical staff at Western Carolina University. He studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and has played with everyone from Paul Winter to Judy Collins. A member of the Asheville Symphony, his technical skill is eerily remarkable on the new record.

Rosser is rooted in the classics too. From the small town of Casar, N.C., he studied jazz piano and studio recording at the University of Miami School of Music.

All three men have a brilliance and passion, the combination is otherworldly and attention getting. Some of the tracks are more Middle Eastern, like the first cut "Garden of the Beloved", while others sound jazzier like "Radio Asheville". "It has the improvisational elements of jazz, the nuances and vocabulary of classical and the raw groove elements of world music," said Guerguerian. It's a little like being transported into a movie scene with a soundtrack swirling around you. And that's part of what they are hoping for. "It would be great on a movie soundtrack," said Guerguerian, who's worked on films before.

It's a new fresh sound for Asheville and the experimental energy is fun too, watching three locally known masters create together. "At the show we'll do most of the pieces off the record but we'll mix in a bunch of my songs with them too," said Rosser.


Copyright 2004 Asheville Citizen-Times

- Asheville Citizen-Times


"Free Planet Radio New Bedouin Dance"

Smoky Mountain News
Chris Cooper
In Review 8/24/05

Free Planet Radio | New Bedouin Dance


Okay, so this is where I usually start my review with a semi-humorous, smartypants observation about something musical. Frankly, the “humorous” and “smartypants” descriptions may just be optimism on my part. Anyhow, the disc and musicians I’m going to talk about are deserving of much more than the usual treatment, so I’ll just get on with it.

New Bedouin Dance is a gorgeous listening experience. This isn’t much of a surprise considering the musicians involved. Chris Rosser, River Guerguerian and Eliot Wadopian are three of the most important and talented players in the Asheville music scene, to say the least. All have studied at some of the more prestigious music schools in the country, and each has combined this learning with gobs of natural ability, years of gigging and wide ranging musical interests. These are three players that actually compose and perform music, as opposed to impressive displays of skill that carry little emotional or compositional weight.

Rosser engineered the project at Hollow Reed Studio, and his skill in capturing great sounds and performances certainly rivals his abilities as a musician. Clear, warm and lush are starting points to describe the mix. One thing that must be noted is that this is a “worldly” album, meaning that much of the music and instrumentation is a kind of fusion of varying cultures- be it Indian, Afro/Cuban, Asian, Morroccan, rural folk or modern jazz. Those of us with ears tired and jaded by Western pop music will find an oasis of rhythmic and harmonic complexity to float around in. Even those listeners wary of anything labeled “world” would do themselves a service by listening- you rock and metal guys that want to hear how to make 7/4 time groove, or want a clear lesson in using non-western sounding scales (Pelog, Phrygian Dominant or Lydian flat 7 anyone?) will find it all and more here.

The first track, “Garden of the Beloved” is a nine-minute journey through rhythmic modulation and pleasantly ear-perking harmony. Having seen Rosser live several times, I was expecting vocals, astounding alternate tuned acoustic guitar and introspective lyrics. What I got was an emotional experience not unlike hearing Bill Frissell’s Nashville or Ry Cooder’s A Meeting at the River for the first time. No vocals, just rich, colorful music that moves between sweetness and melancholy, rural and worldly. It’s effortless and hypnotic- you still hear it after the tune ends.

“Bodhisattva” is a mere two minutes in length, and as well recalls some of Frissell’s simplicity and willingness to bring different worlds of music together so comfortably you’d think it had always been that way. One feels the warmth of a southern back porch evening, possibly looking out over a view of...Pakistan, maybe. “New Bedouin Dance,” the title track, is reminiscent of early Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett (as the liner notes state), and again moves as stealthily through Weather Report inspired jazz as it does globe spinning harmony- and none of these combinations ever feel forced.

“Radio Asheville” brings some of the instruments back to our “comfort zone”, employing Wurlitzer electric piano, traditional drum kit and electric bass, along with oud, dotar and melodica. The track is also culled from a one-take improvisation after an all day studio session, showing that these guys can truly just sit down and jam. Rosser’s inspired, angular piano lines and the funky, confident groove of Wadopian and Guerrguerian remind you that all are high caliber players that communicate with each other on a nearly psychic level, musically. There’s a certain Flecktones quality to the main melody that’s quirky and fun. Wadopian’s “Alap For Parshuram” and Guerguerian’s “Holly’s Groove” are mostly solo pieces, the first dedicated to one of his teachers, the latter an intense rhythmic study that moves through five different time signatures. Ouch!

The last cut, “Logic And Logos” is described as a collage of two sonic experiments, and there is little need to add much to that. There’s an atmospheric, almost soundtrack quality to the track that lets the album fall away peacefully to an end, again leaving the listener almost unaware that the music has stopped. It’s a feeling a bit like waking up from a dream.

So, and not to gush uncontrollably about it, this CD is simply amazing. It wasn’t at all what most people may have expected (myself included), and what a welcome surprise it is. Music like this is good for us- it’s healthy to find a piece of art to lose yourself in, because invariably you come out with something, be it a feeling or understanding, that you didn’t have before. Go find this album and get lost in the world for a while. It’s a nice place. 5 big fat stars all around.

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/issues/08_05/08_24_05/art_in_review.html - Smoky Mountain News


"The Freshest Thing Out There"

Free Planet Radio is the freshest group out there right now.
It is a perfect blend of all things good"
-Micharl Lipsey-Professor of Percussion, Aaron Copland School of Music - CUNY - Aaron Copland School of Music - CUNY


Discography

New Bedouin Dance
The Unraveling

Photos

Bio

An evening with FREE PLANET RADIO offers a richly unique aural experience which includes the exotic sliding string sounds of the Indian Dotar dancing around a pulsing Jazz Bass accented by the shimmering jingles of an Egyptian Riq Tambourine.
Free Planet Radio weaves Middle Eastern, Indian, and North African melodic and rhythmic structures and blends them expertly with the subtleties and harmonic vocabulary of Western classical music, underscored with the improvisatory element of Jazz.

These artists emerged from three of the country’s finest conservatories, and each has established himself in concert halls and studios, appearing on over 200 recordings and in 30 countries. Their immense individual talents have garnered worldwide recognition in performances from Carnegie Hall to the Hong Kong World Music Festival; from the Kennedy Center to the Madrid International Jazz Festival. These versatile musicians now unite their expansive talents, instruments, harmonies and rhythms to create their shared world vision; a phenomenal blending and harmony of global traditions in music.

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Chris Rosser is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, composer and producer. As a solo performer, he tours nationally playing at festivals, clubs and listening rooms, and has shared stages with folk and pop luminaries such as Nickel Creek, John Mayer, Shawn Mullins, John Gorka, David Wilcox, Tom Rush and more. Chris has released two recordings on ISG Records, The Holy Fool (2000) and Archaeology (1998) and has won songwriting contests at the Rocky Mountain Folks and Merle Watson festivals. With the help of a 1999 WNC Regional Artists grant, he continued his studies of Hindustani classical music and the sarod (a 25-string fretless Indian lute) with world famous Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan in San Rafael, CA. Rosser earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami School of Music where he studied jazz piano and studio recording on a full scholarship. He owns Hollow Reed Studio in Asheville and was awarded a songwriter/composer fellowship from the NC Arts Council. Visit him at www.chrisrosser.com.
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River Guerguerian is a multipercussionist/composer/educator who has been performing professionally for 25 years with such groups as the BBC Concert Orchestra, New Music Consort, Grammy and Oscar winning composer Tan Dun, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Talujon Percussion Quartet, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Chuck Berry, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Ziggy Marley/Gipsy Kings. He received his Bachelor of Music from the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles, universities, modern dance companies, and new music festivals throughout the U.S. He has performed at International Music Festivals in New York, Berlin, Moscow, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Barcelona, London, and has recorded on over 100 albums and film soundtracks. In 1994, River sold all possessions, left civilization for five years, and lived in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalaya Mountains. River conducts rhythm and sound exploration workshops throughout the country. Visit him at www.guerguerian.com.
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Grammy Award–winning bassist Eliot Wadopian has been a professional musician for more than twenty seven years. He began his studies at the Berklee College of Music and has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and the Orient with many professional ensembles. Eliot has held the bass chair for such artists as Paul Winter and the Paul Winter Consort, David Wilcox, Eugene Friesen and Paul Halley, Donald Harrison, Jon Faddis, Glen Velez, Mark Lavine, Gene Bertoncini, Paul Sullivan, Oscar Castro-Neves, Judy Collins, Yo Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, the Cab Calloway big band, and Davy Spillane, to name a few. As an educator, Eliot teaches privately, as well as on the current faculties of Western Carolina University and Mars Hill College. He also performs regularly in several bass sections of many regional mid-Atlantic symphony Orchestras. Visit him at www.eliotwadopian.com.