Shanta Nurullah’s Sitarsys brings together western and eastern instruments played by a stellar group of creative musicians in a variety of groupings, from trio to octet. Ms. Nurullah plays the Indian sitar and an African mbira. Musicians who have performed and/or recorded with the Sitarsys collective include guitarists Andrea Bunch and Alex Wing, who doubles on oud; saxophonist Fred Jackson and pianist Justin Dillard; bassists Yosef Ben Israel, Harrison Bankhead, and Junius Paul; trumpeter Jack Cassidy and drummer Avreeayl Ra; and vocalists Zahra Baker and Keewa Nurullah. Since its inception in December 2015, Sitarsys has performed around Chicago at Elastic Arts, the Washington Park Incubator Jazz series, the Artists of the Wall Festival, and Old Town School of Folk Music’s 77 Beats series.
Shanta’s signature sitar style elicits the stomps, moans, and rhythms of blues and jazz, as well as the lyrical, dreamlike sounds most often associated with this East Indian instrument. Her unique approach has been heard over the years in Shanta’s work with the all women’s groups Sojourner, Samana, and Gemini, as well as bands led by Kelan Phil Cohran, Dee Alexander, Nicole Mitchell, David Boykin, Tomeka Reid, and Saalik Ziyad. In 2015 Shanta was a featured soloist in AACM 50th anniversary concerts at Chicago’s Mandel Hall, the DuSable Museum, and Millennium Park.
Shanta Nurullah’s Sitarsys is a collective of stellar musicians who contributed, in various combinations, to the album “Sitar Black.” The music has been called “soul soothing spiritual jazz”, “original and contemporary”, and “a transformative experience.”
Bio from the Old Town School of Folk Music website