Avataar: World-Jazz ensemble melds the music of India and Brazil.


Date: Sunday, October 20, 2019

Time: 7:00pm


I'm very pleased and excited to be able to present Sundar Viswanathan and Avataar from Toronto, as the inaugural concert in the Beyond Borders series at Theatre 1308.

This group of highly accomplished and creative musicians embody the mandate of the series - to present music that is fresh, defies easy categorization and is entertaining.

Avataar includes multiple JUNO nominees playing music that blends the sounds of India and Brazil with contemporary jazz improvisation. It's going to be a very special evening of enthralling music on October 20. I hope you can join and help kick off the series. My thanks to my fellow curators and to Graham Neumann for his vision and drive in creating something new for Calgary at a great new, intimate venue, Theatre 1308.

- Frank Rackow

“...serpentine grooves, nimble melodies and unending pleasure. The music is intricate without being overbearing and showy, and the result is blissful.”
- World Music Central

”...stellar compositions executed by surging talent.”
- Downbeat

”...the music conveys a spiritual quality while remaining infectiously listenable.”
- Jazziz

About the musicians…


Award-winning and multiple Juno nominated saxophonist/flutist/vocalist and composer Sundar Viswanathanhas shared the world stage with national and international artists alike. He has performed extensively in Europe (including stints with the Grammy-nominated Charles Tolliver Big Band at several Jazz Festivals), Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and the USA. Musical associations from Jazz and World music arenas include Wynton Marsalis, Vijay Iyer, KennyWheeler, Jaffa Road, Lee Konitz, Dave Holland, Marcus Roberts Trio, Kiran Ahluwalia, Rez Abbasi, John Abercrombie, Suba Sankaran, Terry Clarke, George Cables, Joe Lovano, John Hicks, Cecil McBee, Billy Hart, Jim McNeeley, Hip Hop artist GURU, and Dave Douglas. He has been commissioned to compose and perform with Dance companies in Canada and the USA that include Sampradaya Dance Creations, Arzoo Dance Theater, MOSAIC and Trilok Fusion. Sundarand his work has been reviewed and/or profiled in the Boston Globe, Toronto Star, New York Times, Ottawa Citizen, allaboutjazz.com, DOWNBEAT, JAZZIZ, EYE magazine and several other Canadian and international publications. His music has been featured on CBC radio, JAZZ FM, WBAI, Radio Bombay and college and commercial radio nationally and internationally and he can be heard on over 20 recordings as a leader or side man.

Felicity Williams is a Toronto-based musician who sings. Since graduating from York’s music program in 2006, she has been performing widely in Toronto’s music community and establishing herself as a valuable collaborator. She has toured in Canada, the US, and Europe with a number of projects including Hobson’s Choice, Bernice (Robin Dann), the Alex Goodman Chamber Quartet (with Andrew Downing and Michael Davidson), and Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen). Her compositions and/or performances have been played on CBC radio and NPR; Hobson’s Choice, T H O M A S (Thom Gill), and Alex Lukashevsky have been on rotation on CBC radio’s the Signal; she has performed live on Q with Snowblink (Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman), Bahamas, and Royal Wood; she has performed live on WNYC’s Spinning on Air (host David Garland) with Alex Lukashevsky and Bernice.

An eight-time JUNO Award nominee for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, guitarist/composer Michael Occhipinti's inventive approach to creative music of all kinds has earned him a broad array of listeners and the respect of critics and musicians alike. Crossing genres that include jazz, chamber music, funk, world music, and anything involving modern guitar sounds, Michael is both a versatile musician and an imaginative band leader. His Sicilian Jazz Project has been called "a masterpiece of cross-cultural fusion" and has thrilled audiences in Canada, the U.S., Italy, and Mexico. Starting with field recordings of forgotten Sicilian folk music and reinventing the music as a mix of global genres, the project earned Michael a JUNO nomination, the 2009 Ragusani nel Mondo Award (which he and his musician brother Roberto received together in Ragusa, Sicily for their contribution to Sicilian culture), and a Chalmers Award that allowed him to live in Sicily from March-June 2010.

Justin Gray is an Acoustic and Electric Bass Player, Composer and Band Leader. His main influences include Jazz, R&B, Indian Classical and Contemporary Music. Justin has played with and worked with a number of internationally renowned artists including; Dave Liebman, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Mike Stern, Cutis Fuller, Ingrid Jensen, Seamus Blake, Dan Weiss, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Greg Osby, Shantanu Bhattacharrya, Subankar Banerjee, Bikram Ghosh, Tejendra Mejendar, Henry Hey, John Riley, Quinsin Nachoff, Ravi Naimpally, George Koller and Chitraveena Ravikiran. Justin is currently the band leader for two well-established groups in the international music scene. Justin performs regularly with his own group Gray Matter; a contemporary Jazz ensemble that is heavily influenced by modern groove music. Monsoonis a contemporary Indo-Jazz ensemble that features original compositions that blend aspects of North Indian Classical Music with Contemporary Jazz. Both of these groups feature Justin’s original compositions and have been featured in many Jazz Festivals and feature concerts across Canada and India.

Juno winning drummer/percussionist Max Senitt is a highly regarded and in-demand freelance musician on the Toronto and international scene. He brings a wealth of experience and versatility gained from performing across Canada, USA, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe with such Grammy and Juno award winning artists as: Alex Cuba, Hilario Duran, Odessa/Havana, and Carol Welsman. Presently a member of Tzadik Recording artists “Zebrina” and Urugayuan singer Valeria Matzner’s bands, he also leads his own Trio. A Yamaha Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, and Headhunter Drumsticks artist, Max is also quite active as an educator.