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Aakash Mittal

Brooklyn, NY            

Performer, Composer, Educator Hailed as “A fiery alto saxophonist and prolific composer” by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Aakash Mittal is sculpting a dynamic voice that touches American and Indian traditions. His self-released album, Videsh, was regarded as, “point[ing] toward new possibilities in improvised music.” (Denver Post) As a composer and improviser, Mittal employs colorful dissonances, meditative silences, and angular rhythms expressing environments and spaces ranging from the American west to the dense streets of Kolkata. Mittal has performed nationally at such venues as The Dakota (Minneapolis), The Cultural Center of Chicago, The Blue Room, (Kansas City) and Dazzle Jazz Club (Denver). Internationally, Aakash Mittal has led a quartet at the Congo Square Jazz Festival in Kolkata, India. As a sideman, Mittal as performed in Kolkata with world- renowned percussionist Pandit Tanmoy Bose’s Taal Tantra, andwith the creative music ensemble Kendraka. In 2012 Mittal toured Mexico with Ravish Momin’s Trio Tarana. Other collaborations include PI Recordings artist Amir Elsaffar, avant- garde poet Bhanu Kapil, Yells at Eels with Dennis Gonzalez, and Joining Hands with bharatnatyam dancer Anjal Chande. As a composer, Aakash Mittal has written extensively for jazz quartet composing over fifty new works. Other commissions include, Urban Raga (2011), Transitions (2011), and Questions of Identity (2012) for the Playground Ensemble; Octet on Raga Yaman (2009) for the Ethos West Chamber Orchestra. In 2012 Mittal wrote Meditation for Pictures on Silence saxophone and harp duo. As a leader, Mittal has self-released four recordings, Possible Beginnings, Videsh, Thumbs Up EP, and Ocean to rave reviews. Aakash Mittal’s awards and honors include the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music (2012) and the Herb Albert/ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award (2013).Aakash Mittal is a 2013 American Institute of Indian Studies Creative and Performing Arts Fellow.

The Street

Inspired by the density and human collision of Kolkata’s streets this piece is my first work that integrates sound samples from India with my jazz quartet. As sax and guitar play a dissonant unison line, sounds of car horns and marketplace haggling build the narrative. Bass and drums create momentum with a driving 5/4 pulse. Improvisation sections contribute to the soundscape as an atonal expression of my first trip to India. This piece is the second movement of my Videsh suite which was recognized with a CMA Adventurous Programming Award 2012.

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Nocturne V

Performance of Nocturne V by the Awaz Trio at the Shastra Festival in New York City. Feat. Aakash Mittal (saxophone), Rez Abbasi (guitar) and Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam). 2015 This piece was created with support from the American Institute of Indian Studies Performing Arts fellowship

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This meditative alaap-style piece was inspired by the tragic death of a family member. The melody is based in raga Yaman and repeats against progressively dissonant harmonies. The tension is released into a lonely saxophone cadenza before resolving back to the original statement of the melody. My hope was to convey the journey from grief and loss to acceptance and understanding. I am the saxophonist on the track. The other personnel is Matt Fuller (guitar), Jean-Luc Davis (Bass), and Josh Moore (Drums).

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NewMusicBox Articles

NewMusicBox October 1 2019 | By Aakash Mittal
Tyshawn Sorey: Music and Mindfulness

Tyshawn Sorey’s music emerges from a vast array of experiences, communities, storytelling, and a deep engagement in mentor-mentee relationships. When I listen to his recent works Pillars I, II, III,...

NewMusicBox February 1 2018 | By Aakash Mittal
Milford Graves: Sounding the Universe

It is difficult to place Milford Graves into a category. He is lauded as a master drummer of the 1960s avant-garde jazz scene, credited with inventing the martial arts form...

NewMusicBox October 31 2016 | By Aakash Mittal
Questions of Identity

How do we straddle the line between individuality and the cosmos without becoming homogenized masses or superficial categories?

See more of Aakash Mittal's articles on NewMusicBox.