Kadri Gopalnath was born in Mangalore, on India’s west coast. As a young boy, while on a visit to the royal city of Mysore Kadri had his Damascus moment. As a marching band made its way through the streets he spied a strange looking instrument, unlike anything he’d seen to that time. It was brass and looked a bit like the trunk of Ganesha reaching up to accept the gift of a banana. Kadri was entranced and bugged his father to tell him what the instrument was. “A saxophone. Now keep quiet,” scolded his father.
As an adult, Sri Gopalnath, has carved out a niche for himself as the most famous, and most accomplished Indian saxophone player. Like many of his musical peers who took to western instruments (guitar, violin, clarinet) he had to make some adjustments to the classic jazz instrument to make it perform and sound the way he wished, which was the Carnatic classical musical way.
Over thirty years ago while attending India’s premier international jazz festival in Bombay, his playing caught the year of John Handy. Asking the young musician to play with him he was immediately taken by this strange but familiar music coming out of the sax. Sort of like free jazz pioneered in the lofts of New York in the 60’s, Gopalnath’s playing was nothing like the music American jazzmen were making.
Over the years, Kadri Gopalnath, has toured the world, both as an Indian classical musician as well as a partner with some of the great jazzmen of the day. He has collaborated with fellow sax player Rudresh Mahantappa (among many others) and received rapturous accolades from audiences and critics alike.
Here is a CD of his Carnatic playing that I picked up in Chennai several years back. Enjoy this fresh music!
01 Raja Raja Aradhithe – Niroshta – Thistra Adi – Muthiah Bhagavathar
02 Adukaradhuni – Manoranjini – Adi – Thyagaraja
03 Baja Mana Rama – Sindhu Bhairavi – Adi – Thulasi Dasar
04 Raga Alapana – Karaharapriya
05 Rama Neeyata – Karaharapriya – Adi – Thyagaraja
06 Sri Rama Padhama – Amirtha Vahini – Adi – Thyagaraja
07 Western Notes
08 Swami Sangeetham – Ayyappan Song