The October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music

October 1-31, 2019


Amirtha Kidambi & Elder Ones

Sunday, October 7, 1pm

Fringearts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. (at Race St.)

Amirtha Kidambi – composition, vocals, harmonium
Matt Nelson – soprano saxophone
Nick Dunston – bass
Max Jaffe – drums & sensory percussion

Amirtha Kidambi & Elder Ones (via
Amirtha Kidambi & Elder Ones (via

“Ms. Kidambi has formal training in Carnatic and Western classical music, too, but that’s not where her input ends. In a recent conversation about where she came from and where she’s going, she discussed the Carnatic singer Sudha Ragunathan; the free jazz of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler; Alice Coltrane’s bhajan recordings from the 1980s and ’90s; Sarah Vaughan; Black Sabbath; the 20th-century classical vanguardists Varèse and Xenakis; the experimental composer Robert Ashley, with whom she worked toward the end of his life; and Renaissance motets. The common theme through them is a sense of immediacy, or what she called intensity.” -The New York Times

A strikingly versatile and broad-spectrum vocalist, Amirtha Kidambi collides worlds, cultures and visions into cosmically expansive new forms. The intrepid nature of her musical imagination can be found in the diversity of her collaborations: Mary Halvorson’s newest quintet Code Girl; Charlie Looker’s early music-inspired dark folk band Seaven Teares; Darius Jones’ vocal quartet Elizabeth-Caroline Unit and Samesoul Maker; and Pat Spadine’s analog percussion and light ensemble Ashcan Orchestra. She also leads the quartet Elder Ones, which uses composed material and loose structures as a template for improvisation. Oscillating between worlds of modal Sufi-like circular grooves and free improvisation to jagged rhythmic precision and meditative drones, Thyagaraja, Coltrane or Stockhausen could be equally suspected as illegitimate fathers of their sound. Amirtha’s background in Hindu devotional singing led her to incorporate the Indian harmonium as an accompaniment and compositional tool, lending the Elder Ones’ music an otherworldly ambience, while her work with Darius Jones and the Carnatic tradition inspired the use of abstract syllables to liberate the voice from specific literal ideas to facilitate unhindered improvisation.