Paracosm is a new duo project by longtime friends and collaborators María Grand and Rajna Swaminathan. In the spirit of creating a “paracosm,” an alternate universe dreamt up with childlike wonder, they return to a place of simple curiosity about sound and vibration. In addition to playing the instruments they are professionally known for -- tenor saxophone and mrudangam (South Indian percussion) -- they incorporate their voices and the piano to bridge the gap between the modalities of intimate practice and formal performance, bringing a heart-centric offering focused on spontaneity and trust.
María Grand is a saxophonist, composer, educator, and vocalist. She moved to New York City in 2011. She has since become an important member of the city’s creative music scene, performing extensively in projects including musicians such as Nicole Mitchell, Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Mary Halvorson, Jen Shyu, Fay Victor, Joel Ross, Steve Lehman, Aaron Parks, Miles Okazaki, etc. María writes and performs her original compositions with her ensemble, DiaTribe; her debut EP “TetraWind” was picked as “one of the 2017’s best debuts” by the NYC Jazz Record and her full-length album Magdalena was praised by major publications such as the New York Times, Downbeat, JazzTimes, JazzIz, and others. The New York Times calls her “an engrossing young tenor saxophonist with a zesty attack and a solid tonal range”, while Vijay Iyer says she is “a fantastic young saxophonist, virtuosic, conceptually daring, with a lush tone, a powerful vision, and a deepening emotional resonance.” María is a recipient of the 2017 Jazz Gallery Residency Commission and the 2018 Roulette Jerome Foundation Commission. As an activist in the performing arts, María is a founding member of anti-discrimination group the We Have Voice Collective. She is a member of the Doug Hammond quintet, has toured with Antoine Roney, and performs regularly with her own ensemble, as well as with RAJAS, led by Carnatic musician Rajna Swaminathan, and Ouroboros, led by Grammy Award winner alto saxophonist Román Filiú. She has toured Europe, the United States, and South America, playing in venues and festivals such as the Village Vanguard in NYC, La Villette Jazz Festival in Paris, Saafelden Jazz Festival in Austria, Millennium Park in Chicago, the Blue Whale in LA, IloJazz in Guadeloupe (FR), and many others.
Rajna Swaminathan is an acclaimed mrudangam (South Indian percussion) artist and composer. She is a protegé of mrudangam legend, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, and tours regularly with several renowned Indian classical musicians and dancers, most notably vocalist T.M. Krishna. Since 2011, Rajna has been studying and collaborating with eminent musicians in New York's jazz and creative music scene, and has performs extensively in projects led by Vijay Iyer, Amir ElSaffar, María Grand, and Ganavya Doraiswamy. Culling from her experience incorporating the experimental methods of creative music into her artistic practice, Rajna formed the ensemble RAJAS, which collectively explores new textural and improvisational horizons at the nexus of multiple musical perspectives. RAJAS has performed at prominent New York City venues such as the Lincoln Center Atrium, The Jazz Gallery, The Met Breuer, and Alwan for the Arts. Rajna's debut album as leader of this ensemble, Of Agency and Abstraction, will be released in 2019. Rajna is also active as a composer-performer for dance and theatre works. Most notably, she has toured widely with the acclaimed Ragamala Dance (Minneapolis) and has collaborated with playwright/actress Anu Yadav. Rajna holds degrees in Anthropology and French from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Music (Creative Practice & Critical Inquiry) at Harvard University.