ELEMENTS (George Brooks, Kala Ramnath and Gwyneth Wentink)
Elements Trio combines the unique talents of three extraordinary musicians, American saxophonist and composer, George Brooks; North Indian violinist and vocalist, Kala Ramnath; and Dutch harp virtuoso, Gwyneth Wentink.
Their dynamic and adventurous music bridges cultures and genres, drawing inspiration from a wide spectrum of rich musical heritages. Innovative compositions inspired by Indian ragas, western minimal music and contemporary improvisation unify the aesthetics of Europe, India and the Americas to form an engaging and distinctive global chamber music.
Since the release of their eponymous first CD, Elements has performed in Netherlands, Dubai, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco and at the Sri Moonshine Music Series curated by composer, Terry Riley in Camptonville, California.
Elements is celebrating the release of “Elements – The Alchemy” their second CD on the Earth Brother Music label.
Kala Ramnath, born and raised in the southern Indian city of Chennai, represents the seventh generation of her family to play violin. While Chennai is the heart of the Carnatic classical world, Ramnath was drawn to the North Indian Hindustani tradition, spending more than a decade studying intensively with revered Mewati vocalist Pandit Jasraj.
Her extraordinary technique and lush, singing tone have attracted fans from across the music world. American classical violinist Hilary Hahn commissioned Ramnath to contribute a piece to the Grammy Award-winning 2013 album “In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores.” As a classical soloist she has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, Theatre d’ Ville and most major concert halls. She has collaborated with the London Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, Randers Chamber Orchestra, Alonzo King “Lines” Ballet, Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo, Edgar Meyer, and banjo star Bela Fleck, as well as film composers James Newton Howard and George Acogny.
In 2017 Ramnath received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, the highest honor a musician can attain in India. To quote composer Terry Riley, Kala Ramnath “ is like an angel in human form. Just to watch her play is an extraordinary thing…she’s one of the greatest musicians on the planet”.
Gwyneth Wentink began her harp studies at the age of five, performed for Dutch Queen Beatrix at the tender age of ten and won the coveted Israel International Harp Contest at seventeen, one of many awards including the International Nippon Harp Competition, the Gulbenkian Prize and the Torneo Internacional in Rome.
As a harpist both classical and experimental, Gwyneth Wentink has performed in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center; Royal Albert Hall and Royal Opera in London; the Konzerthaus in Berlin and Concertgebauw in Amsterdam. Praised for her versatility, Wentink introduced the harp into classical Indian music, and performs regularly with greats like Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, Kala Ramnath and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
Wentink is currently touring as principal harpist of the Orchestra Revolutionaire et Romantique and the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Terry Riley, Theo Loevendie, Marius Flothuis and George Brooks have all composed works for her unique abilities.
“Gwyneth Wentink Is A Splendid Harpist With A Virtuoso’s Flair And Technique…She Commands A Truly Amazing Range Of Dynamics Colors And Nuances.” – New York Concert Review
George Brooks is a prolific and diverse saxophonist and composer, acclaimed for successfully bridging the worlds of jazz and Indian classical music. He is the founder Indian fusion group Summit with Zakir Hussain, Fareed Haque and Kai Eckhardt; Bombay Jazz with Larry Coryell and Ronu Majumdar and the Raga Bop Trio with Steve Smith and south Indian guitarist Prasanna. Brooks has performed throughout Europe, Asia and North America with India’s most respected concert artists including Hariprasad Chaurasia, U Srinivas, Trilok Gurtu, Shankar Mahadevan, as well as jazz, blues and pop luminaries John McLaughlin, Jaki Byard, Etta James, Talvin Singh, Ray Manzarek (Doors), the Temptations, and many others. Of particular importance are his collaborations with American composer Terry Riley, a fellow student of Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, who has inspired George’s approach to composition and improvisation.
George has composed and arranged for Zakir Hussain, Yo-Yo Ma, the Mark Morris Dance Company and Merchant Ivory Productions and has received numerous awards including a 2003- 2004 Arts International Touring and study grants, the 2007 American Composers Forum (ACF) Continental Harmony Prize, the 2008 ACF Northern California Commissioning grant. In 2010 the SFMOMA commissioned Brooks for an “artist response” to the museum’s new rooftop sculpture garden. In 2012 New Music USA awarded Brooks a Composers Assistance Grant. Brooks is also the recipient of the Mid-Atlantic Arts 2013 USArtists Touring Grant and an SF Friends of Chamber Music, New Works Grant.
“Bristling with east meets west polytonality and rhythmic intrigue and tinged with a Trane-like spirituality… Blowing gorgeous tones and fluidly unraveling complex ideas…(Brooks) succeeds to a startling and almost rapturous degree.” San Francisco Bay Guardian
Stanford Jazz Festival describes Brooks and Ramnath’s collaboration… “Tenor sax sage George Brooks has it all: The colossal tone, the intuitive creative leaps, the commanding technique. Fresh out of New England Conservatory, George pursued his muse down two very divergent paths; he’s been the go-to horn-master for blues giants like Etta James, Albert Collins, Roy Rogers, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. And, amazingly, he’s helped create the electrifying genre of Indian/jazz fusion with world-class virtuosi like Zakir Hussain, Fareed Haque, and John McLaughlin. This year’s SJW concert is a special moment uniting George with renowned Indian violinist Kala Ramnath, whose unique, otherworldly sound will entrance you. The music draws from Indian ragas and rhythmic patterns, with which Ramnath and Brooks create an accessible blend of the profound and ecstatic.”