Mahanthappa and Iyer
of their cultural roots. The highlights of last year's Edgefest were Jason Hwang's jazz reinvention of aspects of Chinese musics, and Amir ElSaffar's tribute to his Iraqi origins. Now UMS brings together the groups of pianist Vijay Iyer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, whose roots lie in different parts of India.
Iyer and Mahanthappa, who grew up and were educated in different parts of this country, met in 1976 and began to play as a duo; and although both have participated in and led various other groups, they remain in many ways inseparable, getting together to tour in tandem to this day. Their musical development has been marked by a clear intent to avoid the obvious, as is apparent in their unusual attitude toward their own Indian roots. Both have managed to avoid the simple borrowing that often characterizes such fusions. Instead, over the years they have cautiously investigated the rhythmic and melodic foundations of the various musical traditions that have flourished in India.