When Richard X Bennett appeared at the Ropeadope HQ we knew this cat was one of us. Hip, dynamically fashionable, and intent on digging deeply into music history and interpreting it for himself. Richard's remarkable path includes three decades playing a diverse array of music on the NY scene and a series of highly acclaimed albums in India, where he studied Raga. And now, Richard brings us not one but two new records for release on October 6th. Experiments with Truth, features the rhythm section of bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Alex Wyatt, with Richard on piano, Lisa Parrott on Bari Sax, and Matt Parker on tenor and alto.
Bennett says the quintet’s repertoire is 'kind of like Mingus meets raga in the 21st century. This is the first time I’ve brought this music back into jazz instrumentation. I don’t claim to be a raga musician, because first off, the piano isn’t a raga instrument. I’d say it’s raga-based.'
Bennett credits the combustible chemistry between saxophonists Lisa Parrott and Matt Parker with energizing the raga project. Rather than writing out the ragas, he presents it as a regular tune, albeit one with unusual notes for a Western ear. Parrott’s affinity for Ornette Coleman’s music provides a trenchant point of entry.
“Harmolodics have a certain commonality with raga in the way they deal with melody. She’s a melodic improviser, and Matt is our wild man. His notes slide and glide, like Bismillah Khan. I love ’em both. They have such power.”