From the resounding hall of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, to the intimate setting of Smalls Jazz Club in New York City, to the massive applause on festival stages in India, Sunny Jain is a highly respected drummer, composer and educator. Born to Punjabi immigrant parents and raised in Rochester, New York Sunny has become an Indian-American musical trailblazer.
Sunny leads Red Baraat, a one-of-kind dhol 'n' brass band melding the infectious North Indian rhythm Bhangra with funk, soca, and dramatic improvisatory conducting. His Sunny Jain Collective has been touted as a leading voice for the new music Indo Jazz (a movement of first-generation South Asians equally steeped in the jazz tradition and the music of their cultural heritage).
In 2002 Sunny Jain was selected as a Jazz Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State and The Kennedy Center. He is the recipient of the Arts International Award (2003 and 2005), Chamber Music America New Works grant, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and performed at the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize concert with the famed Sufi-rock group, Junoon. In 2008, Sunny was commissioned by the Aaron Copland Fund to record his new CD on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Record, Taboo.
“For the past two years the band Red Baraat has been one of the New York music scene's best-kept secrets. Based on the ubiquitous village brass bands of India's Punjab region, Red Baraat has been creating havoc on dancefloors all over the city, and on the national festival circuit, too.” – National Geographic
“New York based Indian-American musician Sunny Jain fuses the future with the past...This new generation of music will bring Indo Jazz into great popularity.” – Hindustan Times, India
“Sunny Jain stands out from other mainstream Jazz in North America and across the world as one who has had the courage to experiment with 'sounds'.” – Sonu Shankar, RSJ, India
Sunny Jain: Taboo
TABOO Features Sunny Jain – (drums, dhol), Marc Cary (piano), Nir Felder (guitar), Gary Wang (acoustic bass), Achyut Joshi (vocals, tracks 1, 4), Sheetal Karhade (vocals, tracks 2, 4), Samita Sinha (vocals, track 6), Shayna Steele (vocals, track 3), Sachal Vasandani (vocals, track 5), YaliniDream (spoken word, track 1)
Sunny Jain is a leading voice in an emerging movement of South Asian-American jazz musicians who bring together America’s greatest original art form and the ancient and modern sounds of their cultural heritage. Touted as an Indian-American trailblazer in establishing the contemporary music of Indo-Jazz, Jain has released five CD's since 2002 that have received international acclaim for their “groundbreaking synthesis” (Coda Magazine). With his new recording on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, Taboo, Jain “stakes out singular turf in this 21st Century world of cross-pollinating musical traditions" (Signal to Noise).
Jain’s Taboo presents seven sparkling new jazz works inspired by ghazals (an ancient poetic form), that address social justice issues. Jain explains further, “this project started through a desire and a sense of obligation to use my music as a platform to address social justice issues permeating the world, and that specifically speak to the South Asian community, where these matters are often considered “taboo”: sexual orientation, inequality and violence upon women, and the juxtaposition of religions. The artistic inspiration was derived from ghazals, love poems, that have their origins in the Arabian Peninsula and eventually made their way to India in the 12th century. Ultimately, I wasn’t looking to create compositions based around love poems, but rather utilize the writings of modern day poets and lyricists in addressing the said issues.”
Jain draws inspiration from the musical sensibilities of modern India, in addition to ancient classical forms. His Punjabi roots and appreciation for Bollywood classics are audible in the work. Allusions to Indian dance rhythms find resonance with many forms of jazz in the group's performances.
Each composition on Taboo draws upon a specific Indian raga in order to present a mood specific to each work. While the music in its entirety is influenced by the Indian and African diasporas, the players bring their own unique musical personalities, and collectively, they aim to blur the lines of genre. Jain brings together four of the most in demand, cutting-edge jazz musicians in the world today, himself (on drums and dhol), pianist Marc Cary, guitarist Nir Felder and bassist Gary Wang, with five internationally acclaimed vocalists of the South Asian Diaspora, Achyut Joshi, Sheetal Karhade, Samita Sinha, Sachal Vasandani and YaliniDream, plus singer/songwriter Shayna Steele, presenting a true genre-bend that cuts a beautiful new tributary flowing into the Indo-jazz river. “At the end, I hope this music reflects the creativity of humans, connects to your heart, and inspires you to greater heights of goodness towards all living beings,” said Jain.
Sunny Jain - drums, dhol, compositions
Marc Cary - piano
Nir Felder - guitar
Gary Wang - acoustic bass
Achyut Joshi (vocals, tracks 1, 4), Sheetal Karhade (vocals, tracks 2, 4), Samita Sinha (vocals, track 6), Shayna Steele (vocals, track 3), Sachal Vasandani (vocals, track 5), YaliniDream (spoken word, track 1)