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American Pilgrimage

American Pilgrimage, an album of Indian melody and jazz improvisation, released on Universal Music Classics.

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Dec. 2015, Mumbai — Released on Universal Music Classics, American Pilgrimage is an album of Indian melody and jazz improvisation — a cross-cultural intersection seldom heard in the jazz world.

The album is the culmination of a life-long dream of Bollywood music director, multi-instrumentalist and composer Sandeep Chowta. He wanted to meet and record with his jazz idols, including John Scofield, Bunny Brunel, Eddie Daniels, Andy LaVerne, Dave Valentine and more. His friend and musical partner, vocalist Sanjay Chitale, made it his mission to bring this dream to reality. Several years ago, the two embarked on a two-year-long journey across the United States, knocking on doors, calling friends, crashing on couches and recording music with the aforementioned legends they sought out.

American Pilgrimage fuses jazz improvisation with ethereal Indian grooves. Sandeep would lay down tracks, creating a backdrop of pulsing Indian rhythms and melodies and Sanjay would add his floating vocals. The two would present the tracks to the jazz artists, who all displayed their own brand of virtuosity, finding new voice in the context of these foreign sounds.

“Thodi Thodi” features John Scofield wailing on his guitar, reminiscent of a sitar against the bubbling pulse of Sandeep’s tabla. Scofield recorded his solo in one take, asking innocently “Was that okay?” to stunned and satisfied Sandeep and Sanjay. Scofield says of the project, “I rarely find myself in a wholly different musical world but in this instance I did. It was a pleasure to work with these fine musicians.”

“Kesariya” is a traditional Rajasthani folk composition featuring Dave Valentine on flute and Jay Oliver on keyboard, who infuse the tune with elements of jazz. “Tu” is an echoing, atmospheric song featuring bassist Bunny Brunel, who remarked, “I was so amazed at the freedom with which Indian singers choose their notes. The whole experience was simply incredible.”

The final track, “American Pilgrimage Collage,” is a stunning, languid composition interspersed with the spoken conversations of Eddie Daniels, John Scofield, Bunny Brunel and Sandeep Chowta – a glimpse into the genial nature of the remarkable recording collaboration.

Sandeep Chowta is a prolific Indian Bollywood music director whose work can be heard in some of the biggest Bollywood films such as Om Shanti Om and Rowdy Rathore. He has also recorded his own jazz albums including Mitti and Matters of the Heart, both on Sony Music.
Sanjay Chitale’s life was rooted in music until he found himself working in Information Technology. When the opportunity to record American Pilgrimage came along, he sold his investments and dove head first into the project. This is both Sanjay and Sandeep’s recording debut on Universal Music Classics.

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