Ragawerk is the new project and album by two of Frankfurt’s most exciting musicians – guitarist Max Clouth and drummer Martin Standke. The duo have created a distinctive blend of Indian inspiredloops and ragas with subtle electronics, modern jazz and a pinch of Krautrock. Indian and Western elements merge into a unique fusion that organically cultivates an engaging, one of a kind sound that not only encapsulates the best of contemporary jazz, but also projects nuances of prog-rock, ethereal cinematic qualities and strong elements of Indian raga. The result is the eponymously titled Ragawerk album, set to take the international music scene by storm in September this year.
The blend of musical cultures that Ragawerk presents is based on a simple, coherent principle: Ragas are a centuries-old concept from Indian music. They are basic melodic structures traditionally linked to specific moods or times of day. Technically speaking, they are scales, and here lies the interface to jazz: Raga music, like Jazz, is scale-based. A raga can be improvised with as if it were a scale, and chords or beats can be placed underneath it. “It’s a way of improvising that opens up a whole other world again,” says Martin Standke. “Some of our pieces are based on Ragas,” says Max Clouth, “but they are so immersed in our band sound that you don´t even think of that at first. We take the Raga and put it in our context, we don’t always stick to all the traditional guidelines, and this is what defines our music.” “You have to know the rules, only then are you allowed to break them. That’s how development works.” adds Martin Standke.
After studying jazz guitar at the Hochschule für Musik Mainz and the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden, Max Clouth travelled to India, living in Mumbai for three years, immersing himself deeply in the country, its traditions and sounds. In 2017, Max Clouth received the Frankfurt Jazz Scholarship – the jazz prize of the city of Frankfurt. Martin Standke was awarded the Hessian Jazz Prize a year earlierwith the “Contrast Trio”. The duo have been working together musically since they first met in 2012 and Ragawerk is the result of this inspiring friendship.
Ragawerk have toured extensively in Germany and India, performing at Jazzfest Brandenburg, Palmengarten Jazz Festival Frankfurt, Giants of Jazz Festival Delhi and the Goethe Institutes in Chennai, Trivandrum and Hyderabad, Moreover, Clouth’s trademark double-neck guitar and imposing stage presence combined with Standke’s razor sharp skills on drums and percussion makes Ragawerk aphenomenal live band to behold. With a series of concerts in the pipeline and a new album that is tipped to become one of the stand out releases of 2022, Clouth and Standke as Ragawerk are undoubtedly set for international recognition and while respect for their work will continue to grow throughout the world.
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