U.K. Indo-jazz-funk innovator gives us the nitty gritty on how a metal fan made the leap to fusion, working with Mike Stern and more
Exclusive video interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
October 2, 2017
By David Sands
Indo-jazz bass explorer Shez Raja is a creative force to be reckoned with on today’s fusion scene. As the leader of the eponymously named Shez Raja Collective, he’s released five highly acclaimed albums over the last decade featuring a distinctive blend of jazz, funk, rock, Indian ragas and other influences. Comprised of a core group that Rajam, Pascal Roggen, Chris Nickolls, Vasilis Xenopoulos and Alex Stanford, the collective is known for their energetic and uplifting live shows. The group’s latest release, 2016’s Gurutopia, feature contributions by jazz giants Mike Stern and Randy Brecker and has received rave reviews from both music and mainstream publications from around the globe.
The son of an Asian father and an English mother, Raja was raised in the Wirral Peninsula in Northwest England. After studying music at Leeds College, he toured the U.K. with the urban folk outfit Elephant Talk and Loka, an alt-rock band, and later became a popular session musician. After that he went on to perform at the Glastonbury Festival and renowned venues like Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Royal Festival Hall and the London Forum and toured Europe with female hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte.
FBPO’s Jon Liebman caught up with the dynamic Mr. Raja at this year’s London Bass Guitar Show, where he presented a Masterclass on creativity. Together they embarked on an engaging conversation that covered his musical origins, the making of Gurutopia, gear preferences and a possible timeline for a new album.
Watch our interview with Shez!