Kavita Shah, vocalist
International Jazz Discussion and Live Music Series
Hailed by Downbeat Magazine as the “Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist” (2012) and winner of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award (2013), Kavita Shah is gaining a reputation as a visionary young singer, composer, and arranger. A native New Yorker of Indian origin fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French, Ms. Shah incorporates elements of Indian, Brazilian, and Malian music into her jazz-based repertoire and we are thrilled to have her join us as we continue the cross cultural jazz discussion for International Jazz Month. Her debut CD “Visions”–produced by Benin-born jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke–combines the sounds of the traditional Indian tablas and West African kora with those of a jazz quintet. “Visions,” which includes special guests Loueke (guitar, vocals), Steve Wilson (saxophone, flute), Yacouba Sissoko (kora) and Rogerio Boccato (percussion), will be released this May.
In addition to the “Visions” project, Ms. Shah leads the Brazil Trio, a jazz quintet, and the 3rd World Orquestra, a 13-piece ensemble with tabla, kora, rhythm section, and strings. She regularly works with contemporary composers and has premiered over 12 works in ensembles ranging from chamber groups to big band to jazz philharmonic. She is a member of the Steve Newcomb Orchestra (“Caterpillar Chronicles,” Listen/Hear Collective 2012), and is the lead voice for tabla virtuoso Samir Chatterjee’s project “Rabi Thakur.”
Ms. Shah received her Master’s in Jazz Voice from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Steve Wilson, and Jim McNeely. She holds a B.A. from Harvard College in Latin American Studies, where she was the recipient of the Cultural Agents Thesis Prize and the Kenneth D. Maxwell Prize in Brazilian Studies for her ethnomusicology research on contemporary Afro-Brazilian music and politics.
“Kavita is a musician’s singer. She thinks like an instrumentalist, always taking risks and searching for new levels of understanding. Her music defies categorization; she has a truly unique vision shaped by her influences from New York to Brazil to India and beyond.”
- Steve Wilson, jazz saxophonist
Photo by Julien Charpentier