Artist Profiles: Ramesh Shotham

Ramesh Shotham

Ramesh Shotham was born in Madras, South India. He began his career as a drummer in a rock band that performed all over the Indian subcontinent, co-leading a group called Human Bondage. During the mid-seventies, he returned to Madras to study the tavil, a traditional Temple music drum,- played throughout South India and Sri Lanka. Later, he studied the other classical percussion instruments, like ghatam, mridangam, kanjira and morsing at the Karnataka College of Percussion under Professor TA.S. Mani.

In 1980 Shotham arrived to Europe with the Indo-Jazz Fusion- group Sangam to participate in various European festivals. Since then Shotham works and lives in Europe and is recognized as one of the most successful percussionists in Europe.

He has worked not only with leading European and American Jazz and Rock musicians, but also with artists from Africa, Australia, China, Korea and several Arabic countries.

Shotham has recorded over 120 LPs and CDs and has worked for all the leading TV and Radio stations in Germany and Europe. In 1984 he was invited as artist-in-residence at the Iwalewa Haus, University of Bayreuth.

In 1986 he was guest teacher at the Conservatory in Rotterdam. He has also conducted workshops and seminars in various cities. Ramesh Shotham has performed at various international festivals.

Shotham’s Work with musicians such as Carla Bley, Chris Hinze, Steve Coleman, Steve Swallow, Jonas Hellborg, Charlie Mariano and a host of others is well documented. He also founded his own bands like Bhavani and Madras Special. These concepts were used to feature Shotham’s own compositions.

Shotham toured with Sigi Schwab’s Percussion Project regularly. He was invited during the 1997 Music Triennale in Cologne to perform with the Carla Bley Big Band. Early 1998 involved work with Steve Coleman in India. Shotham recently appeared in Heartbeat of the Continents, a film by Manfred Waffender featuring different styles of drumming, produced by arte and the ZDF.

Along with Rabih Abou-Kahlil and Zoltan Lantos, he recorded a documentary film for Euroarts to demonstrate the influences of World music on Jazz. Recent activities included a trip to Cuba to play at the Jazzfestival with Steve Coleman, a summer tour with Carla Bley’s Escalator over the hill Project and an invitation to a World Music festival in Tunisia with the well known Oud player Mohammed Zinelabidin.

Ramesh Shotham was commissioned by the WDR to travel to India with his group Madras Special in early 1999 to perform and record new music. The musical concept was based on a quartet format with very special guest musicians, with whom Ramesh Shotham shares a creative friendship since many years.

Zoltan Lantos, the Hungarian violinist who spent several years in India plays a crucial role in Madras Special. His virtuosity and warm sounds coupled with his knowledge of Indian ragas is just right for this music. Sandhya Sanjana, the Indian singer, lives in Amsterdam and easily bridges pop and Indian classical music.


Open Hand (Keytone, 1993)
Madras Special (Permission Music, 2002)
Urban Folklore (Double Moon, 2006)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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