Sumitra Nanjundan

Sumitra Nanjundan’s September 2019 release, Bittersweet, is a work of rare distinction. Joined by bass master Carlitos del Puerto and the iconic drummer Brian Blade, Sumitra fully reveals her mastery as a multi-dimensional artist — a vocalist, pianist, lyricist, composer, and arranger.
Produced by Alex Machacek, the recital features seven of her melodic originals, a song adapted from the corpus of Béla Bartók, and personalized interpretations of the American songbook standard “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Freedom,” by former Young Disciples singer Carleen Anderson.
In a sense, on Bittersweet, Sumitra presents a spiritual autobiography, pulling together her experiences, twists and turns into a collection of stories that, in various ways, reflect the contradictory emotions implied by the title. Not least of these vignettes is the title track itself: “Bittersweet” juxtaposes memories of her mother’s December death, of their mutual December birthday, of her December wedding anniversary. “After my parents’ departures, I’ve been given a new definition of self,” she says. “I’ve learned that grief and joy can and do coexist side by side, in harmony — and it’s good.” She cites Brené Brown’s descriptor, “holding the tension,” adding:
“To me it seems that this quality (which you could also call ‘holding the balance’) is what life — and making music — is all about.” TED PANKEN

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