Sumkali
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Sumkali

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | SELF

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2003
Band World Jazz

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Music

Press


by Sandor Slomovits

From the April, 2014 issue

The word fusion, when applied to music, is sometimes used dismissively or pejoratively. It implies that two or more genres have been mish-mashed for no good purpose other than that they can be. The resulting hodgepodge is imputed to be played by musicians not well versed in, nor respectful of, the genres they're mixing. While this is certainly occasionally the case, there is much great music that blends traditions in powerful, exhilarating ways, played by people with a deep affection for, and understanding of, the styles they're blending. Apparently, fusion too is in the ear of the beholder.

To my ears, the local group Sumkali plays fusion that works. Their music is a thrilling meld of Indian classical music, American jazz, and more. The musicians (a core of longtime members, both Indians and Westerners, plus others who join them for some recordings and concerts) have either grown up in those traditions or bring years of study to their playing. Sumkali's instrumentation embodies their mingling of traditions, ranging from bass, drums, saxophone, and violin (here played with the musician sitting cross-legged on the floor and the instrument held between foot and shoulder) to the less common sitar and tabla, to the rarely seen kanjira (a small tambourine-like instrument, capable of great complexity and subtlety), bansuri (an Indian bamboo flute), and glissentar (an eleven-string, fretless instrument that sounds like a cross between a guitar, a Middle Eastern oud, and a sitar). On stage members of Sumkali wear traditional Indian clothing--colorful saris for the women, kurtas for the men--with the occasional blue jeans.

Mainstream America first encountered Indian music in 1965, when George Harrison played sitar on the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood." The distinctive sliding between microtones and the complex polyrhythms of classical Indian music quickly became a part of our musical consciousness. Sumkali's early focus was primarily on that music, played in relatively traditional fashion. (Indian Music Night, a longtime monthly staple at the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room, began
with just Sumkali founders John Churchville on tabla and Meeta Banerjee on sitar.) As the group expanded and began incorporating other instruments and influences, the music began to change. Now, "it is all about taking our shared experience as musicians and making something new," says Churchville.

Sumkali's appearance at the Yellow Barn on Saturday, April 5 will be its first in Ann Arbor in over a year. The Yellow Barn should be an ideal venue for the group; in its relatively short existence, it's welcomed a wide variety of artists, teachers, organizations, and events. Sumkali and their fans' interest in unique, respectful, and joyous blending will be a perfect fit. - Ann Arbor Observer


This is one of the segments of the Michigan Music Monthly video channel. - Michigan Music Monthly


This is one of the segments of the Michigan Music Monthly video channel. - Michigan Music Monthly


"John Churchville remembers one of the first Indian bands he joined, the only Westerner among its traditional musicians...." Click the link for entire article. - Saginaw News


SumKali Indian Classical Music Lecture/Demonstration
Tuesday, October 13, 7 pm
Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N 4th Avenue, Ann Arbor
Indian classical music has a wide diversity of forms and traditions. Indian music ensemble SumKali explained the intricacies of Ravi and Anoushka Shankar’s particular style through performance, celebrating local talent while illuminating the greatness of these master visiting musicians! - UMS, Ann Arbor, MI.


SumKali Indian Classical Music Lecture/Demonstration
Tuesday, October 13, 7 pm
Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N 4th Avenue, Ann Arbor
Indian classical music has a wide diversity of forms and traditions. Indian music ensemble SumKali explained the intricacies of Ravi and Anoushka Shankar’s particular style through performance, celebrating local talent while illuminating the greatness of these master visiting musicians! - UMS, Ann Arbor, MI.


"...It was a very healing and powerful experience that left me filled with emotion."
-Aurore Adamkiewicz N.D. - Aurore Adamkiewicz N.D.


"...It was a very healing and powerful experience that left me filled with emotion."
-Aurore Adamkiewicz N.D. - Aurore Adamkiewicz N.D.


"I Loved the Indian music. They have a lot of talent. I love how they explained everything so we could understand it."
-Manchester Village Newspaper - Manchester Village Newspaper


"I Loved the Indian music. They have a lot of talent. I love how they explained everything so we could understand it."
-Manchester Village Newspaper - Manchester Village Newspaper


Discography

Sumkali - "Chalo" 2013
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sumkali3

Sumkali - "Chalo" 2013
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sumkali2

Sumkali - "Mandali" 2010
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sumkali

Photos

Bio

Sumkali is a diverse music group made up of members from North and South India and the American Midwest. Through their diverse backgrounds they have been able to craft music with a global appeal that goes beyond just fusing genres together.

"To my ears, the local group Sumkali plays fusion that works. Their music is a thrilling meld of Indian classical music, American jazz, and more." -San Slomovits, Founder of award winning music group Gemini

With professionally crafted performances sprinkled with a heavy dose of improvisation and positive energy, Sumkali brings audiences to their feet by skillfully playing to the energy of the crowd and shaping the music differently every time they play. It is never the same show twice, but it is always great!

"...It was a very healing and powerful experience that left me filled with emotion." -Aurore Adamkiewicz N.D.

 Sumkali is also dedicated to education. Through workshops, lessons and master classes, they have taught about the rich tradition of Indian music as well as the importance of celebrating our diversity and coming together to create something positive in the world. They have conducted these classes and workshops at state, national and international conferences, major universities, and public and private schools.

"I Loved the Indian music. They have a lot of talent. I love how they explained everything so we could understand it." -Manchester Village Newspaper

Sumkali is made up of seasoned professionals that take the business of making music very seriously. They are prompt, courteous and very easy to work with. Sumkali practices excellent communication, both on stage and off, whether it is crafting a musical arrangement, or arranging a craft table, the members of Sumkali are not afraid to work to make the music AND the event work for everyone.

"Members of Sumkali volunteered their time to help with the sound, setup, and food for our event. Not only are they talented musicians, they are incredibly beautiful human beings. I am forever grateful and honored to call them my friends." ~ Atmaram Chaitanya - Director of Kashi Navyas Community Center

"Our music is a direct reflection of the people in the group. We celebrate our common ground as humans and come up with music that appeals to our heart and soul." -John Churchville, Founding Member