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Bangalore Breakdown, Hot Sax For Huntington

Huntingtonians are so friggin lucky it’s mind blowing…The Cinema Arts Centre will be hosting an all out jam fest featuring Bangalore Breakdown and other extremely talented artists on January 29th at 8pm.   Bangalore Breakdown started playing together about three and a half years ago in Caffe Vivaldi on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. On Sunday nights multi-instrumentalist, Premik Russell Tubbs performed impromptu jazz sessions. Some nights Premik recalls “ there may have only been three or four tables taken” but he just played on because that is what he loves to do. One night a great Munich born jazz pianist, Uli Geissendorfer, wandered in and took a seat at the piano and as the two musicians began to play they felt the same  immediate synchronicity that they had felt when they played together briefly many years earlier.  The duo started to bring in an audience and gradually Uli invited some more of his friends to jam with them.  Suddenly the whole concept of  a world music jam band was formed, word got out and the place was packed every Sunday night. From this, a whole circle of friends grew and they realized how special it was and how necessary it was to preserve this magic. Uli and Premik booked a studio and invited the group down and they all just jammed like they were in the club.  Within two days they had their album,” Diary” which features elements of jazz, Indian and African music.

I was fortunate to corner Premik this past Sunday before he caught a flick at Cinema Arts Centre and asked him a few questions about himself. I am telling you, this dude Premik is so mellow and the coolness just oozes out of him like butter on a china plate under the summer sun. His answers are thoughtful with no intention of trying to impress or persuade and his piercing stare appears to come straight  from the soul. He just exudes music, as he talks his fingers kind of gyrate to some musical melody.

Premik’s father played trumpet/fluglehorn and was an arranger and big band composer who hung with the likes of Coltrane.  The elder Tubbs brought Premik (whose Christian name is Russell) into the world of music at a young age.  He remembers spending summers in Tanglewood, New Jersey listening to classical music at the Beethoven Festival. To this day music remains a meaningful link to his dad.  After playing the clarinet for a while Premik heard a rock and roll saxophone on the radio and it blew his mind.  He told his dad that that is what he wanted to play.  The clarinet lessons needed to continue and when he was ready he got to add the saxophone. Premik was the type of kid that had to be dragged away from playing his instruments for mealtimes

When Premik was about fourteen he heard Indian music for the first time and it had a tremendous affect on him. It still has a strong influence on his music today. Years ago he performed in the Indian city of Bangalore; between that experience and the deep spiritual connection he has with Indian music, he chose Bangalore for the title of the group. The second part of the name,” Breakdown “ he said does not represent something like a car falling apart but is actually a type of music. You hear it a lot in Bluegrass type music as an upbeat, very fast and fun tune.  Back in 1974 when Premik was still Russell Tubbs and lived in the City, a friend, Narada Michael Walden, brought him to meditate with renowned spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy. The fit was perfect and he not only had guided meditation but they composed music together as well.  After many years of studying meditation, Russell  was given his spiritual name of Premik , which means unconditional lover of God.  He liked it so much that he chose to keep it as his first name. However, “it’s difficult to live up to it everyday” Premik admits. “We live in a very agitated world” Premik remarks, and he makes an effort for daily meditation.  He especially finds it helpful on performance days.  As a matter of fact he remembers some great mediation sessions when he was on tour with Carlos Santana, they would sit in the dressing room and meditate before going on stage. He looks forward to the Bruce Springsteen concerts where he has several times met beforehand to meditate with his good friend E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

Recently Premik was thrilled to be invited to perform in Bangladesh with an 80-member chorus and orchestra performing a fusion of eastern and western music.  They were joined by one of India’s most notable singers, Rezwana Bannya.

He says the experience was amazing and he was pretty psyched not to have realized that the concert was being broadcast live on India’s biggest station with five million local viewers and up to 40 million worldwide via satellite or he,” would have been scared *%#-less.“ (I, on the other hand, can’t imagine this guy ever breaking a sweat.)

I asked Premik if he’s ever felt threatened in any places where he’s gone to perform and he replied that on the contrary he feels blessed that everywhere  he has performed has been nothing but a great experience.  He remembers the rewarding and amazing experience performing in Belgrade, Macedonia and Serbia, only a couple of years after the bombing had stopped. The people he encountered were so loving and hungry for the arts and things to give them joy that when he performed every place was packed with just a beautiful and receptive audience.

Premik has played with top rated musicians worldwide. Just Last year on May 25th 2009 he played in San Francisco at the  “Let the Sunshine In’” Narada Michael Walden Foundation Concert with a number of other musicians including Sting.  By the way, Premik says Sting is a very gracious guy. As far as the music scene in America, Premik feels that there are some great venues in other states but he always like coming back to New York City because “there are all of these cool hole in the wall places that you wouldn’t suspect have some great music taking place inside.“

He sometimes drives out from Manhattan to Huntington to visit our own Cinema Arts Centre owing to the fact that he feels it’s is comparable to the best Art Houses in the City …but even better because it’s got the beautiful Sky Lounge with tasty chow.

I put Premik on the spot to set his daily philosophy into words and after a thoughtful pause he replied, ”self- transcendence.”  In other words, “always be ready to go beyond, don’t rest on your laurels “ I guess that means Premik will only get   awesomer.

In addition to what is advertised for the show, the Sky Music Ensemble from Lincoln Center will perform with Bangalore Breakdown and  Fred Smith will be  performing with his trumpet at various times throughout the concert and then  have his own jazz history segment.  Premik has also invited six incredibly talented Long Island and Queens kids ranging in age from 10-18 to improv with them as well and play Herbie Hancock’s” Watermelon Man”.  The whole group will perform the grand finale. “Free as the Morning Sun”, a late 70’s tune from Carlos Santana.  Premik says that “it’s a song of freedom… a beautiful uplifting Latin salsa beat that will take the roof off of the place!”

Besides Premik, the other members of Bangalore Breakdown that will be playing on Friday night are: Naran Budhakar, Melissa Stylianou, Nathan Peck , Todd Isler, Lev Zhurbin, and J. Eric Johnson. Each one of these artists could pack the place on their own but Huntington has them all together for one night, go ahead and Google them if you are unfamiliar.

You can purchase tickets ( which WILL sell out) and check out the line up for the 29th here

After the show there will be a Q an A and then wine and cheese will be served.  Holy smokes it’s gonna be great!

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