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Harish Raghavan

With a deep, woody, resonant tone, compelling harmonic and rhythmic invention, bassist Harish Raghavan is a first-call touring musician for a number of top-flight jazz artists including Kurt Elling, Taylor Eigsti, Vijay Iyer, Gerald Clayton, and Charles Lloyd, to name a few. He has played on seminal recordings by Ambrose Akinmusire, Eric Harland, Logan Richardson, and Dayna Stephens, among others. Based in Brooklyn, Raghavan is also a composer, bandleader, and educator. He co-leads a group with saxophonist Walter Smith III that has issued several recordings. Raghavan's leader debut, Calls for Action, appeared in 2019. After reshuffling his band, he followed it in 2022 with In Tense. Raghavan was born and raised just north of Chicago. His early musical studies were in Western and Eastern percussion including the Indian mridangam. He transitioned to upright bass when he was 16. Raghavan received his BA in Music from USC, where he studied under John Clayton and Dave Carpenter, and later with Robert Hurst. He moved to New York in 2006 and made his living doing side work; he came with excellent bona fides from his teachers. He made his recording debut on trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos' Underground in 2006. In 2009 he was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition. He worked steadily in clubs and as a session player on albums by guitarist Andreas Öberg (My Favorite Guitars), Eigsti (Let It Come to You), and Erin Boheme (What Love Is), before joining Harland's trio for Voyager: Live by Night, and Akinmusire's group for his acclaimed Blue Note debut, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, in 2010. He and Harland both played in Sara Leib's studio band for Secret Love in 2012. Between 2014 and 2015, he played on seminal albums by Akinmusire (The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint), Harland (Vipassana), Walter Smith III (Still Casual), and Logan Richardson (Shift), among others. Raghavan, reedist Ben Wendel, and drummer/percussionist Nate Wood formed ACT and self-released Act II in 2015, while the bassist worked in the Klemens Marktl Sextet in December; the sextet also included John Ellis, Seamus Blake, Aaron Goldberg, and Joe Locke. Raghavan and Smith also worked on Dayna Stephens' Criss Cross date Reminiscent. Raghavan amassed an intense sideman résumé. He toured extensively with a variety of players including Mark Turner, Aaron Parks, Greg Osby, Billy Childs, Benny Green, Fabian Almazan, and Julian Lage in performances on the festival stages of Europe and in American clubs. Raghavan spent most of the following year on the road with Akinmusire touring Europe and the States. In 2017 he appeared on the trumpeter's widely acclaimed A Rift in Decorum (Live at the Village Vanguard). He worked in a trio with Smith and Harland for the saxophonist's Whirlwind debut Twio (2017), that also featured guests Joshua Redman and Christian McBride. The bassist played on Smith's second label outing In Common the following year with Marcus Gilmore, Joel Ross, and Matthew Stevens. Raghavan formed his own quintet with alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Micah Thomas, vibraphonist Ross, and drummer Kweku Sumbry. The group began playing out, and he co-produced and played on Ross' 2018 Blue Note date KingMaker, which also featured vocals by Gretchen Parlato. In the fall of 2019, some 13 years after moving to New York, Raghavan issued Calls for Action, his leader debut for Whirlwind, featuring his quintet. For his next project, Raghavan retooled his band, bringing back Ross on vibraphone and Harland on drums, and adding guitarist Charles Altura and woodwind player Morgan Guerin. The album, In Tense, arrived in July 2022, again on Whirlwind.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo


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