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Silk Sound Asian American Jazz Orchestra Gives New Life to Musical Traditions

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Music that is centuries old is being reborn as a new sound in Pittsburgh.

Silk Sound Asian American Jazz Orchestra is an amalgam of different cultures and musical traditions coming together under the direction of Harish Saluja.

He said that for years there have been attempts to fuse Asian music and jazz, and “most of it has been forgettable.” As an Indian native who enjoys jazz and has wanted to bring these two cultures together for years, Saluja built this project from the foundation of Samir Chatterjee and Mimi Jong, who play the tabla (an Indian percussion instrument) and the erhu (a two-string Chinese bowed instrument), respectively.

Pittsburgh jazz artists Ben Opie, Chris Parker, Jeff Berman and Matt Booth were added, and rehearsals began.

“We’ve really workshopped this band," said Opie, a saxophonist. "There’s been an extended time devoted to rehearsals."

Saluja was concerned at first because the initial efforts sounded to him to be just Asian music played on Western instruments.

“Now when I listen to it I cry, I get emotional” he said.

The ensemble’s first public performance will be Feb. 28 in at Bellefield Hall Oakland.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified one of the Silk Sound ensemble's members. The article has been updated.