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New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Jazz


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"Two Days of Beautiful Sounds"

Percussionist Ravish Momin has lived all over the world—India, England, the Middle East, the United States—and his music “has always been about trying to attempt to bridge all these different things I grew up with,” he says. While his rhythmic structures may be rooted in Indian beats, he plays on a jazz kit, and he has recently been threading electronic elements into his drumming. His Trio Tarana, with violinist Skye Steele and cellist Greg Heffernan, achieves “a seamless mix between the written and the improvised,” he says, to create music that is at once oddly familiar but completely unfamiliar—what he calls “folk music from a country that doesn’t exist.” Like any folk music, it’s instantly accessible and simply profound. - Albuquerque Alibi (4/2010)

"Jazz-Electronica from NYC"

A common theme among artists who are either immigrants to this country or children of immigrants is the issue of identity.

Am I American or am I [insert ethnicity here]?

The answer usually lies somewhere in between, with artists often expressing themselves in a way that embraces contemporary influences while maintaining a healthy respect for heritage and tradition. Percussionist Ravish Momin is one such musician. His duo, Tarana, a collaboration with cellist Greg Heffernan, incorporates electronic sounds and rhythms from Momin's Indian upbringing, all wrapped up in a modern jazz aesthetic.

"This music is very much about my past," said Momin during a recent interview with DCist. "For me its about recollecting those ideas, but it's been distilled with different layers being added over time."

Tarana will be performing on Saturday night at Joe's Movement Emporium, a multi-purpose art space located in Mt. Ranier, Maryland. In addition to the acoustic percussion and strings, the band's sound relies heavily on digital technology. Both Momin and Heffernan have laptops and various other electronics on stage that sample and process their sounds in real time, allowing them to create lush soundscapes that hide the fact that there are only two people on stage.

"We're using not just using backing samples," Momin explained. "it's very interactive and It lets us create ideas on the spot. It's very much in the moment."

Momin's roots lie in the Indian cities of Hyderabad and Mumbai, where he lived as a child and was exposed to classical Indian music. He began playing the drumset after moving to this country, which eventually led to serious study with drummer Andrew Cyrille. Under Cyrille's tutelage, Momin was able to maintain a very personal style, while still developing the necessary technique. In college, however, Momin chose to pursue a degree in engineering -- "like any good Asian boy," as he put it. After spending five years as a professional engineer, Momin decided to pursue music full time in 2003. In addition to leading his own bands, he has played with a number of noted musicians in New York's crowded jazz scene, and has even made a few television appearances backing pop star Shakira.

"It was nice to know that I had the chops and ability to hang with a session like that and make it work," Momin said of the experience. "It's a completely different vibe from jazz."

This diverse set of experiences is reflected in Tarana's approach. While the electronic component can lead to a more ambient style, Momin is quick to emphasize a strong groove element to the music. Though he eschews the term "fusion" to describe the band, Middle Eastern, North African, and classical European influences are all readily apparent, and combine to create a sound that is very much international and improvisational, but also readily accessible. Tarana is not at all a traditional jazz band, but in Momin's view this sensibility is in keeping with the jazz tradition.

"I think I owe it to myself to keep exploring new ideas," he said. "That's what jazz is all about."

Ravish Momin's Tarana will be performing at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at Joe's Movement Emporium, located at 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mt. Rainier, MD 20712. Tickets are $15. - DCist.com (9/2010)

"Ravish Momin's Trio Tarana stretches musical boundaries"

Jazz has a reputation of being difficult for people who don't already know the language -- and that's before you get to the avant-garde stuff that deliberately breaks all the rules.

It doesn't have to be that way.

For example, few groups stretch the boundaries of jazz further than Ravish Momin's Trio Tarana, which performed Friday night at the Andy Warhol Museum. They build beautiful, utterly unpredictable improvisations from elements as disparate as Indian classical music, electronic music and a vast panoply of East Asian rhythms. Yet, their singular commitment to heavy, groove-based rhythms -- even in extremely complex time signatures -- is utterly irresistible, and something any rock, pop or hip-hop fan can pick up on immediately.

Momin, who studied engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, has played drums with everyone from jazz violinist Billy Bang to pop superstar Shakira. Live, he's a frenetic presence behind the kit, drawing all eyes to him whether he's playing, or just enthusiastically reacting to the other players. Greg Heffernan on cello and Skye Steele on violin round out the trio -- though Heffernan and Momin frequently shift to several laptops, triggering an array of pre-recorded samples. A standout moment was the Trio's "Peace for Kabul," an homage/interpretation of Afghanistan's rich musical tradition.

Michael Machosky can be reached at mmachosky@tribweb.com or 412-320-7901.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6/2010)


Miren (CleanFeed, 2007)
Five Nights (Not Two, 2006)
Climbing The Banyan Tree (CleanFeed, 2004)



Tarana, formed in 2003, is led by percussionist/composer Ravish Momin, born in India, while currently residing in New York City. The trio features the unique instrumentation of violin, cello and percussion, and primarily utilizes East-Asian rhythms (including Indian, Japanese, Afghani), Middle-Eastern and North African rhythms as the foundation for a new creative musical experience. Ravish Momin cut his jazz teeth performing/recording with members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The AACM was co-founded in the 1960s by tenor-saxophonist legend Kalaparush Maurice McIntrye and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams. The AACM initial membership also included Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Leroy Jenkins, Lester Bowie and other influential performers who clung to the adage "Ancient to the Future" and still continue to explore the boundaries of jazz. Inspired by their music, Ravish has kept on developing Trio Tarana, continuing to search across various world music genres. Lately, he has managed to re-invent the band with a brand-new line up, as well as introducing the element of electronics to create lush ambient soundscapes and other-worldly textures.

They had released a critically acclaimed debut entitled “Climbing the Banyan Tree” in 2004, on the Portugal-based CleanFeed Record Label. Of their debut CD, AllAboutJazz.com had said: “It is fair to say that Trio Tarana is without precedent in the world of improvised music. A true synthesis of North African, South and East Asian motifs with classical organization and the immediacy of free improvisation has probably not existed prior to “Climbing the Banyan Tree.” Their follow-up CD, “Miren” (2007) was also very well-received.
The trio has recently performed at The Calgary Jazz Festival (Canada, 2009), Jazz Lent (Maribor, Slovenia, 2009), Cultural Festival Zacatecas (Mexico 2009), Jazz Ao Centro Festival (Coimbra, Portugal, 2008), and also toured China and the UK. They've performed at New York City’s Rubin Museum of Asian Art on multiple occasions, and most notably, at the Yardbird Suite Jazz Club (Edmonton, Canada, 2007), Detroit Institute of Art (US, 2006), Mediawave Festival (Hungary, 2006), the Jazzin’ Tondela (Portugal, 2005), the prestigious Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery (Washington, DC, 2005), the New Music Circle (St. Louis, MO, 2005), 9th Annual Asian American Jazz Festival (Chicago, IL, 2004), the Taipei Arts Festival (Taiwan, 2004), amongst other performances. They have also been recently featured in TimeOUT Magazines (London, Lisbon, HongKong and Chicago), ‘Village Voice’ (New York), ‘Jazz.pt’ (Portugal) and in ‘JazzImprov’ (France), Redstar Magazine (China) amongst various other domestic and international publications.