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UNK: THE RADHA THOMAS ENSEMBLE
Featuring India’s topmost professional jazz musicians and rated #1 on Reverbnation, the world’s leading music platform UNK has been performing in India and abroad since 2011.
Empanelled by ICCR to be one of the Indian government’s only officially supported jazz bands, they have been heard at all major Indian jazz festivals including Jazz Yatra, ICCR Delhi International Festival, Indigo & Blues Festival, Bangalore International Arts Festival, Bengaluru Habba, iSai Festival, goMad Festival and others, besides gigging all over India in leading clubs.
UNK is a constantly evolving musical experience often providing an opportunity for younger musicians to cut their teeth on this complex thing called jazz.
Radha Thomas began headlining as a singer while still in her teens in a rock and roll band called Human Bondage, which was India’s most popular band in the 70s. She soon developed a strong taste for jazz, which is her favourite kind of music. She also began combining the tonal complexities of jazz with the rhythmic nuances of Indian classical music.
Thomas (who was Radha Shottam then) represented India at European jazz festivals and made her way to New York, the home of jazz, where she lived and performed for almost 20 years with such musicians as John Scofield, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, John Faddis, Alex Blake, David Liebman, John Abercrombie, Ryo Kawasaki, Joe Farrell and many others in some of NYC’s most famous jazz clubs including Sweet Basil, The Bottom Line, Alice Tully Hall and more.
Her Indian classical vocal training came first from Kumar Gandharva in New Delhi at the Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya, and subsequently with Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar of the famed Dagar Brothers in the dying art of Drupad singing. She continues to bring these Indian influences into her singing. She has three albums to her credit and has performed in London, many cities across the USA, France, Poland, Romania, Germany the Far East and of course all over India.
She composes much of the original music performed by the band.
She has performed at many jazz festivals around the world and in India including in 2015, 2016 at EuropaFest in Romania, the South Asia Performing Arts Festival in New York, and prior to that, Jazz Yatra, Bengaluru Habba, Indigo Fest, Isai Fest and other popular and prominent festivals in India and abroad. In addition to performing at jazz clubs all over India.
She hosted a weekly jazz show on Radio Indigo in Bangalore.
Aman Mahajan is an Indian pianist, composer and improviser.
Having explored the music of a multitude of nationalities and idioms, his work is influenced by traditional and contemporary forms of music from around the world and inspired by a sense of unity and connection. He is interested in improvised music as a medium of interaction, exploration and creation.
A graduate of the Berklee College of Music (Boston), Aman is currently based in Bangalore, where he teaches privately and performs in his own ensemble, Refuge. He is currently active with his solo piano project refuge.1, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, piano-guitar duo Tinctures, and cross-cultural band Mystik Vibes.
Mahajan’s past associations include Atma (Indo-Austrian musical collaboration with Patrick Dunst, Muthu Kumar, Grilli Pollheimer), Global Music Institute, Greater Noida (returning piano faculty), Aman Kartikeya Pranai (Delhi-based improvised music trio playing original works), RED Mawkin (singer-songwriter, Delhi), Akash Vincent (singer-songwriter, New Delhi), Krishna’s Temple Rock (contemporary Carnatic music, Pondicherry), Yuichiro Tokuda (Japanese saxophonist), Aleksandra Denda (NYC-based singer-songwriter), Pt. Debashish Bhattacharya & The Calcutta Chronicles (Hindustani fusion, Calcutta), Sistashree (Sanskrit mantras + soul + blues + jazz + funk + gospel), TEDx Bangalore 2014 (presenting a solo piano version of an original piece, Sun Dance), KAYA (poetry/song + live electronics + improvisation, Bangalore), Schizophonic (electronic music trio, Bangalore), Suraj Mani & the Tattva Trippers (rock poetry, Bangalore), Lucky Ali (popular Indian songwriter), MTV Coke Studio with Clinton Cerejo (pop/rock, Bombay), Project O.N.S (electro/jazz/funk, Boston), Gamelan Galak Tika (traditional Balinese music, Cambridge, Massachusetts), The Joya Band (singer-songwriter, Boston). and Arooj Aftab (world fusion/Pakistani song).
Chandran is a self-taught jazz musician. His style tends towards bebop, influenced principally by horn players. He has played jazz guitar for UNK – The Radha Thomas Ensemble since its inception. By day he is Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of Explocity – a leading media / publishing houses with publications in India, New York and Dubai.
Haripriya Narasimhan started her journey in music with vocal and violin lessons. Several years later she chanced upon the electric bass, and there was no looking back. She has been playing bass for 3 years now.
Haripriya enjoys playing different styles of music. She has worked with several musical acts across genres, such as Moon Arra (jazz fusion), Poptarts (neo-soul, funk) and Bangalore Broadway Company (broadway big band). She is also part of an experimental soul funk band called RiOT. She is currently exploring jazz/bebop. Jazz fascinates her with its intellectual and emotional depth, coupled with its freedom of expression.
Apart from being an active part of the Bangalore music scene, Haripriya teaches electric bass and guitar. She has taught close to 80 students.
This is her first gig with UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble.
Rohit’s sense of rhythm started to develop from a very early age as his father used to play the mridangam. His brother Kiran, an engineer who moonlights as a drummer is a mentor who has played a pivotal role in Rohit’s development as a complete musician. Rohit started playing dholak with the school choir. He then went on to play the congas and finally found the love of his life, “The Drumset” at the age of 17.
Rohit has played all genres of music including rock, jazz, blues, latin, R&B and neo-soul. Versatility being one of his strengths, he has also worked as a sessions drummer with musician such as Dr. Prakash Sontakke (Hindustani slide guitar), Jagadeesh M.R (Jazz-fusion guitarist) and others.
Apart from performing and recording, Rohit has been a dedicated teacher for over 5 years. Starting as a drum teacher at Deccan International School, he worked as a drum mentor at Octavium. He has taught close to a hundred students so far. Rohit continues to perform and teach as his career blossoms.
This is first outing with UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble.