PRASANNA - ALL TERRAIN GUITAR
“Prasanna’s compositions convey a cosmopolitan harmonic language, rich with passing frictions”-- New York Times
“Prasanna plays guitar quite simply like nobody else on the planet” – All About Jazz“
Prasanna is the quintessential Indian Renaissance man. An internationally acclaimed guitarist in contemporary Jazz, and Blues, a composer for award winning films, a pioneer in performing Carnatic music on the guitar, an engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, a Magna-Cum-Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, an entrepreneurial visionary and Founder of a world class music college that uniquely blends the traditional Indian Gurukula system of learning with contemporary western college education pedagogy. Prasanna was voted among the ‘top 50 creative Indians’ by Open Magazine in 2010 alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Amir Khan, Viswanathan Anand, Arundati Roy and others. Prasanna (Smile Pinki) also belongs to a select group of Indian composers along with Pandit Ravi Shankar (Gandhi) and A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) who have composed music for Oscar Winning films.
Prasanna’s prolific body of work include 16 albums as leader, a concert DVD and an Instructional DVD and numerous concerts at major festivals with some of the world’s most acclaimed artists across every genre of contemporary music. His latest album, the brilliant All Terrain Guitar, featuring jazz luminaries such as Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Dave Douglas among others, has just been released. This is the project Prasanna will be presenting at Pangea Jazz Fest. Prasanna has recorded and performed with Airto Moreira, A.R. Rahman, Esperanza Spalding, Joe lovano, Illayaraja, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Victor Wooten, Alex Acuna, Dave Douglas, Omar Hakim, Larry Coryell, T.K. Murthy, Anthony Jackson, Howard Levy, Trilok Gurtu and others. He is a member of two groundbreaking bands – ‘Ragabop trio’ with Steve Smith and George Brooks and ‘Tirtha’ with Vijay Iyer and Nitin Mitta. Prasanna’s composition ‘Falsehood’ is featured in the Book ‘Essentials of Jazz – the first 100 years’ by Henry Martin and Keith Waters alongside the works of some of the most influential composers in Jazz History. Prasanna was also a winner in the 2014 International Songwriting Contest in Jazz for his composition ‘Springtime in New York’.
Prasanna’s film scores include Megan Mylan’s documentary film ‘Smile Pinki’ - the 2009 Oscar Award winner, the Indian National Award and Filmfare Award winning 2012 blockbuster Tamil film ‘Vazhakku Enn 18/9’, Ian McDonald’s multi-award winning sports documentary ‘Algorithms’, Chetan Shah’s English feature film ‘Framed’ and many more. His latest score is for Megan Mylan’s short film ‘After the Garden Grows’ funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2014.
His creative collaboration with A.R. Rahman includes arranging string orchestra for the title score of the 2002 Oscar nominated Bollywood Film ‘Lagaan’ and numerous other guitar playing sessions. Prasanna’s talents are also prominently featured in A.R. Rahman’s MTV Coke Studio project telecast in MTV India in 2013 and released worldwide by Sony Music as DVD and Audio CD. Prasanna’s unique guitar work can be heard on the Score and Soundtrack of two major Hollywood movie productions of 2014 –Dreamworks’ ‘A Hundred Foot Journey’ directed by Lasse Hallstrom and produced by Steven Spielberg/Oprah Winfrey and Disney’s ‘Million Dollar Arm’ directed by Craig Gillespie.
A fearless innovator in contemporary music and yet steeped in the authentic Carnatic tradition with 6 years of study with guru Tiruvarur Balasubramaniam and 23 years of study with masterful violinist guru A. Kanyakumari, Prasanna has been the first point of exposure to the possibilities of Carnatic music for thousands of listeners and musicians from the around the world. He was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for Carnatic music by H.H. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi in 2006.
In addition to all of his accomplishments Prasanna is a highly regarded educator and has given lectures, talks, workshops and residencies at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Banff Center for the Arts, Berklee College of Music, Harvard University, Osnabruck Institute of Music etc. He has also taught such accomplished musicians as Dweezil Zappa, Guggenheim Fellow Dave Fiuczynski, Berklee College of Music Faculty Marc Rossi, Brazilian drum virtuoso Mauricio Zottarelli and many others. Prasanna’s passion for music education led him to establish Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM), in 2009, which has quickly become the largest college of contemporary music in South Asia. Prasanna served as President of the college for close to 5 years before moving on to pursue other avenues.He currently lives in New York City.