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Quadraphonix gets the global blues
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
Honolulu’s Quadraphonix has the gift of being joyous and righteous simultaneously.
With bubbling rhythms that draw from Latin, Indonesian and African sources, an adventurous attitude about sound that leads guitarist Shree Sadagopan to occasionally bow his guitar, and a close collaboration with hip-hop emcee duo Ninja Pleez (vocalists Amenraw and Zen Chambers), the band practically bursts at the seams with musical ideas.
QUADRAPHONIX PRESENTS: ART & MUSIC FESTIVAL
CD release party with Quadraphonix, Taimane, Tempo Valley with Sister Lubei, The Troubadours, The Waves and a drum circle
Where: Loft in Space at Fresh Cafe, 831 Queen St., Kakaako
When: 7 p.m.-midnight today
Cost: $10 or donation
You might call Quadraphonix world beat, or free form, though band founder and drummer Jonathan Heraux objects to the “jam band” label. In fact, the band’s musical roots truly are global.
The band’s new album, “Blues in the Ragas,” out today, makes that evident.
“BLUES in the Ragas” is a clear expression of the band’s preoccupations.
Some tracks channel Sadagopan’s South Indian and Malaysian musical heritage, including tracks sung in Sadagopan’s first language, Tamil. Arabic influence is also apparent, as Malaysia is a country where Muslims and Hindus live side by side. “Arabic sounds are embedded in my head,” Sadagopan said.
Others reflect Heraux’s origins. Born in Haiti, he’s passionate about African, Latin and jazz patterns.
Meanwhile, the blues provides a common thread.
“The first form of music I played was blues,” Sadagopan said.
“We’re taking the blues and heading back in the African direction,” Heraux said. “There is a connection. … It’s really about expression, and being able to share that with other people.”
QUADRAPHONIX’S CD release party tonight puts the band up top of a lineup that includes fellow funk / jazz/ hip-hop travelers Tempo Valley and rising star Taimane. The show will help raise funds for a Quadraphonix tour, which is expected to include Malaysia and the U.S. mainland. You can’t keep a good band down, and Quadraphonix, founded in 1998, has continued to attract admirers.
The band appeared less frequently for a time, focusing on livelihood and family. But since 2010, with a First Friday residency at Chinatown club Lotus Downtown, Quadraphonix has become more prominent again.
Now, with regular appearances at hipster hangout and art space Ong King, and the CD recording project, the band’s roots and preoccupations are back in the forefront.
“No matter what, we keep on playing,” Heraux said.
HERAUX grows animated telling of a Quadraphonix performance in Japan, opening for punk/ska band Kemuri. “That was the first time I felt our music had no language barriers,” he said.
“We’ve morphed over the years, but that’s always been the idea of free-form jazz … a groove that unites you to let go of traditional ideas of what music is.”
Sadagopan recalls meeting Heraux as a teen, still acclimating to the U.S. and a move from Malaysia to Hawaii. They bonded over music in college, where Sadagopan first heard Carlos Santana play guitar.
“I realized that you don’t have to lock yourself down to just one genre,” Sadagopan recalled.
Having sacrificed and worked with little to build up to their current level of recognition, Heraux and Sadagopan are humble, praising their teachers and fellow band members for what they’ve achieved.
But Sadagopan also makes clear, “This is our life. This is what we want to do.”