Interview: Arun Ramamurthy “…When I offered him a baseball ticket in exchange for an interview.”

Interview by Richard Bennett

Arun Ramamurthy

Photo courtesy of Arun Ramamurthy

The excellent violinist Arun Ramamurthy combines Carnatic music with jazz in his eponymously titled  Arun Ramamurthy Trio. He lives in Brooklyn with wife, violinist Trina Basu and their baby son. When I offered him a baseball ticket in exchange for an interview, he quickly agreed. We sat in section 202 in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium on a sunny day. Arun was wearing a Don Mattingly Throwback Jersey. I bought Arun a hot dog and a beer and between innings we talked.

Richard Bennett (RB): In your ideal band, would you rather hire Questlove or Zakir Hussein?

Arun Ramamurthy (AR): I think Questlove because Zakir Hussein would intimidate me too much and Questlove would be able to do anything. He just seems like a fun guy to hang out with.

RB: Cyril Connolly famously observed “There is no more somber enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.” Your thoughts?

Arun Ramamurthy Trio CDAR: It’s very clear that free time becomes incredibly valuable, so when you have it, you try to take advantage of it. It’s very difficult to find the proper time to practice, but with that said, children can be your muse. They’re the inspiration behind it all and make you want to be more pure about what you’re trying to do. It all comes together with trying to impress your baby with how good you are.. (he laughs)

RB: What is your least favorite song in the world?

AR: “I Saw the Sign” by Ace of Base. I don’t know why I hate it. It gets stuck in my head. (he sings a little)

RB: What percentage of musicians calling themselves “Pandits” are actually “Pandits?

AR: 62%

RB: Do you think with modern technology and YouTube, somebody can become an Indian Classical musician without going to India?

AR: Yes! I think you can do it. I think it’s better to go to India; to be absorbed by everything. Indian Music is the music but it’s also the culture. However most of my training was in New Jersey

RB: Speaking of New Jersey: Do you think Harold and Kumar is an accurate picture of Desi life?

AR: ( laughing) Yes. I don’t know that Kal Penn represents any Indian in that sense but I’m a huge fan of the movie.

RB: What other special skills do you have?

AR: I’m a dynamite parallel parker and I’m really good at remembering phone numbers.

Just then, Marc Texeira hit a home run and we cut the interview short to watch the rest of the game.

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Up coming NY Concert tonight!

Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Time: 7pm – 8:30pm
Venue: Rubin Museum (150 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011,  212-620-5000)
Ticket: $25
Genre: Indian vocal music

Master vocalist Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan makes a welcome return to the Rubin, his only public appearance in New York City this season.

He will be joined by Harshad Kanetkar on the tabla, Arun Ramamurthy on the violin, with Michael Harrison and Aaron Shragge as tamboura and vocal accompaniment.