Oliver Rajamani Explores 'Flamenco India'
In his quarter century as a working musician in Austin, Oliver Rajamani has explored and performed music from all over the world. His musical interests and influences are remarkably varied -- he's performed with Willie Nelson, the Gypsy Kings, Eric Johnson, Dotschy Reinhardt, Edie Brickell, and many, many others.
In his latest project, he's exploring the common roots behind Flamenco music and the music of his home country of India.
"I really didn't know anything about Flamenco music when I was young," Rajamani says. "But I was living in New York, and I was going to college. I was in orchestra and there was a lady there who was in sociology, and she gave me a book called The Road of the Gypsies. And she said... it's about you, your culture, and everything."
He read the book, learning more about the journey of the Roma from India into southern Spain. He then met and collaborated with some New York Flamenco artists and learned more about the common roots of Indian and Flamenco music.
That eventually led to Flamenco India, Rajamani's new album and documentary film. It's less fusion and more an examination into the shared musical history of these seemingly disparate cultures, he says.
"The way I see what I'm doing is that I'm just highlighting the Indian influences that are found in Flamenco," he says. "So it's not necessarily that I'm fusing anything. I'm highlighting it, but I'm definitely adding a lot of new innovative stuff which is more Indian based."
This Sunday, April 29, he's celebrating the release of the new album and documentary with a live show and film screening at Zach Theatre. "It's actually a special evening," Rajamani says. "We're releasing this album, and we're bringing also recognition to the Romani Center -- which is found in Austin -- [and] has the largest historical Romani archives in the world."