Chris Rosser, River Guerguerian and Eliot Wadopian joined talents to form the world music ensemble Free Planet Radio in 2001. Their latest album, Pursuit, has just been released, and bass player Wadopian calls it the “most jazzlike of any of our creations.”
The trio’s members bring a wealth of musical knowledge and instrumental skill to the music they create together. “I believe it’s safe to say we all were involved with the music of our youth that led each to the great American songbook and, subsequently, jazz,” Wadopian, a two-time Grammy winner says. “What we found amazing was how American music—funk, jazz, country, hip-hop—all can combine quite nicely with non-Western musical traditions. By exploring Hindustani, Middle Eastern, Asian and other worldly music styles, our intent was to bring these styles together into a kind of stew of interesting sounds.”
Guerguerian plays a number of percussion instruments including Middle Eastern frame drums and doumbek, the Indian kanjira and the African djembe. Among the instruments Rosser adds to the mix are the 17-stringed Indian dotar, the Turkish cümbüs, guitar and melodica.
All of the members are trained musicians, having studied at music conservatories. Besides performances, they also offer residencies, workshops and master classes for schools and camps of all ages.
Among Free Planet Radio’s many appearances are performances at New York City’s Lincoln Center, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival in Scotland and the Madrid International Jazz Festival. Previous albums are Stillness (2018), Global Symphony Project (2015), The Unraveling (2008) and New Bedouin Dance (2004).
Two of Pursuit’s tracks are a direct nod to legendary swing and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. More than a year in the making, the album features some well-known guest musicians including saxophonist Jacob Rodriguez, who currently tours with Michael Bublé; Duncan Wickel, who tours with Rising Appalachia, on violin and cello; and Ginger Kowal (violin) and Kara Poorbaugh (viola), both from Opal String Quartet.
To learn more, visit FreePlanetRadio.com.