"'Charu's raga-based improvisations are singular."
- Multi Grammy-award winning pianist Arturo O'Farrill
Pianist and composer Charu Suri treads fearlessly between genres, pulling global influences that range from the mood-anchoring Indian ragas, Sufi music, to the trio. Her ground-breaking albums, The Book of Ragas, and its sequel, The Book of Ragas vol. 2 have often elicited the response, "I've never heard this type of sound before."
One of the few female composers from India to perform work at Carnegie Hall, Charu has lived in four continents, and writes music that reflect her journey as both a traveler and her training as a classical music piano prodigy. She has been playing the piano since the age of five, and performing since the age of nine, and one of her best memories is winning an international piano competition at the age of 15.
What started purely as an experiment with her "Book of Ragas" has turned into a niche that she is now increasingly becoming known for. Her latest album is RAGAS & WALTZES, a first collaboration between her and Preservation Hall's jazz drummer, Joe Lastie.
In this album, dedicated to her late father, she explores European waltzes through her own jazz lens. The album also includes two ragas, performed by guitarist Noshir Mody and flutes by Al Jewer. RAGAS & WALTZES has received a lot of praise from critics. JAZZIZ Magazine has praised its classic reinvention of the European waltz, and All About Jazz said, "These are all Suri originals, with which she creates a mood that is a mix, tune-by-tune, of longing and solemnity, then of a lilting and uplifting beauty, segueing into tender reverence that shifts gear into a segment of lively swing before drifting back to loving respect. And that swing is surely inspired by New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band's drummer, Joe Lastie, Jr., sitting in the recording session's drummer's chair."
But she is no stranger to the art of the Songbook too (attribute this to her listening to numerous records of Bill Evans and Billie Holiday as a kid). "The New American Songbook" has garnered many awards, including a "Band Single of the Year" crystal trophy for her song, Bluesy, awarded by the International Singer-Songwriters Association (ISSA) in 2021.
Charu has performed at Lincoln Center and other prestigious concert halls around the world, including St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She often performs with her band, and sometimes as a soloist. She embarks on a multi-city RAGAS & WALTZES tour to India starting with a performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai, on September 16th.