Hear Ukranian Bassist-Composer Han Beyli’s India-Informed Jazz Fusion EP
The New York-based Azerbaijani-origin artist calls on vocalist Rohith Jayaraman, who has previously worked with the Berklee Indian Ensemble
Influenced by his Azerbaijani heritage and the country’s Mugham folk style, New York-based Han Beyli arrives at a striking jazz fusion sound on his self-titled EP, which released last month. Previously collaborating with Indian vocalist-composer Harini Iyer, Beyli called on Indo-American vocalist Rohith Jayaraman (previously part of the Berklee Indian Ensemble) for the konnakol-informed opening track “Birth of the Sun.”
Beyli says, however, that the song was written 10 years ago and underwent many revisions. He adds, “It has a very laconic yet powerful message [of] ‘Sun rising, shining bright’ as a translation from Sanskrit. And Rohith just nailed it with his incredible talent! I met him in Boston in 2016 and since then we’ve just always wanted to record something together. And then we started jamming with some of the grooves and it felt very natural.”
With bass rhythms at the center, the rest of the EP offers sublime jazz, R&B and musical styles from around the globe. “Jeyran,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes, works in multiple movements – Beyli’s voice leading Indian classical strains from Srishti Biyani and Harshitha Krishnan on vocals, a towering brass section featuring trumpeter Alonzo Demetrius, trombone player Brandon Lin and tenor saxophonist Jake Hirsh, plus a string section, piano and drums for a big band sound. When it comes to adding Indian elements, Beyli says there’s a “universal pulse” that arrives in the form of groove which is common across musical styles. He adds, “For me, it was a priority to focus on the aspects of the rhythm that lies across all nations and cultures.”
The funkier, horn section-led third track “Moonlight,” features composer Anibal Cruz on keys and co-producing duties, guitarist Francois Chanvallon and trumpet player Bastien Rieser, amongst others for a dexterously groovy jam that shimmers. “I always was seeking to combine different genres because I believe if we all can coexist without boundaries in the world of arts then we theoretically can build such a united, global, borderless society,” Beyli adds about his collaborations and compositions.
There’s more collaborations coming up in 2021 that will help Beyli blur boundaries, including another with India’s Harini Iyer. He adds, “We leave in times of rapid change, and hopefully, it’s gonna get only better.”
Listen to ‘Han Beyli’ EP below. Buy the music here.