Here at Jazz London radio we get the opportunity to see and interview some top class performers.

One man who comes into this category is Arun Luthra, a saxophonist and konnakol artist who hails from Massachusetts in the United States and bases his musical career In New York City.  What is konnakol I hear you ask? Konnakol is the art of performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian Carnatic music https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konnakol .     

Arun was in the UK recently on tour with his group, Arun Luthra’s Konnakol Jazz Project, playing venues in London and Brighton, including Ronnie Scott’s, where he had the opportunity to play as leader for the first time. Arun also came down to Greenwich to play in Oliver’s Jazz Bar, which is where I went to interview him and take in his performance.  Oliver’s is a bar in the heart of Greenwich town centre, opposite Greenwich theatre and bordering Greenwich park.  To access the bar you have to proceed downstairs into a dark but very cosy old school setting, perfect for taking in creative music.

Arun is a very tall and statuesque figure, in fact, too tall for the stage at Oliver’s! Arun had to perform off the stage just in front of the seated audience, one way to get closer to the musicians. As for the music itself, Arun went through an interesting repertoire of various musical fusions, from the hard bop influenced Perc-kol-ude/Toorna, which contained some konnakol to The Divvy-Up Dance with its propulsive beat and changes in tempo; where Arun played soprano saxophone. Arun was a founder member of Bjorkestra, a big band dedicated to the music of Bjork and performed Soon Starts Now, a Bjork inspired composition. Arun also played a cover, called Suspone, which was written by Mike Stern and appeared on Michael Brecker’s Don’t Try This At Home album in 1988.  Arun finished his set performing Collective where he brought his konnakol skills to the fore and allowed his musicians to stretch out a bit.

All in all a highly enjoyable set in front of a very appreciate audience.  Arun’s Konnakol Jazz Project U.K. tour consisted of:

Arun on tenor & soprano saxophone

Sam Leak – piano

Tom Mason – bass

David Ingamells – drums

You can listen to our interview before his set here:

Laurie Burnette

JLR Review: Arun Luthra at Oliver’s Jazz Bar, August 2019