Rudresh Mahanthappa - Hero Trio
Jazz Instrumental Album

Rudresh Mahanthappa - "Red Cross"
Improvised Jazz Solo

Rudresh Mahanthappa - "I'll Remember April"
Arrangement (Instrumental)



Hero Trio
Release date: June 19, 2020
Label: Whirlwind Recordings

The last time Rudresh Mahanthappa went into the studio with bassist François Moutin and drummer Rudy Royston they recorded one of the decade’s most acclaimed albums, 2015’s Bird Calls (ACT). The quintet session with pianist Matt Mitchell and trumpeter Adam O’Farrill featured the altoist’s original compositions inspired by the extraordinarily rich idiom forged by bebop architect Charlie Parker. In many ways his new album Hero Trio is a companion piece to Bird Calls, but this time Mahanthappa draws directly on the music of his formative influences. Hero Trio offers a revelatory window into his wide-open aesthetic with a disparate program that begins and ends with Bird.

“I think it is a continuation of sorts,” says Mahanthappa, whose responsibilities as a father and the Anthony H. P. Lee ’79 Director of Jazz at Princeton University have kept him close to home in Montclair, New Jersey in recent years. “If I’m thinking about music that’s inspired me to pick up the saxophone Charlie Parker is at the top of my list. Those tunes are some of the first I heard. All of these pieces had a powerful impact on me.”

One of the era’s definitive saxophonists, Mahanthappa has topped numerous jazz critics polls over the past 15 years. His recordings are regularly recognized as among the best of the year, and his cast of collaborators includes artists who have earned similar distinction, including pianist Vijay Iyer, guitarist Rez Abbasi, and saxophonist Steve Lehman.

The trio with Moutin and Royston emerged out of gigs with the Bird Calls quintet when sound checks gave them brief opportunities to play in the stripped-down setting. But the bonds between Mahanthappa and his bandmates extend back decades. He and Royston were buddies growing up in the Boulder/Denver area, and they played in a band together in the early 1990s. After being out of touch for many years, they rekindled the relationship when Royston moved to New York City about a decade ago.  Since then Royston has become one of the music’s most sought after players, a standout talent on a scene overflowing with extravagantly talented drummers. Moutin is similarly in demand. Mahanthappa met the bassist in the fall of 1997 within weeks of moving to New York City and they’ve collaborated intermittently ever since. The bassist and drummer hadn’t played much together before Bird Calls, “but they connected so well and sounded so good,” Mahanthappa says.

Read about Hero Trio in Stereophile and in Jazz Times! 


Press for Hero Trio


"[Rudresh is] making truly some of the most original jazz out there at the moment." - Brian Zimmerman

"An early contender for Album of the Year.... Mahanthappa’s sound on alto is as expressive as ever, and it’s easy to hear the joy these three find in such disparate sources." - Bret Saunders

"The fierce saxophonist fascinates with his improvisatory jags, rapid cascading runs, and edgy pressure cooker sound. Joined by bassist François Moutin, drummer Rudy Royston responds in kind with his own fearless, across-the-kit propulsive flurries." - Jeff Porter

"[One of] the best jazz recordings of 2020 to date." - Howard Reich 

“The three men deal with the melody reverently, conjuring the anarchic but ferocious spirit of 1940s bebop, but then they slip the leash and go wild, with Royston dropping massive Max Roach-style bombs behind the kit as Mahanthappa journeys all the way to the land of the free and back." - Phil Freeman

“Adventurous jazz is not always as much fun to listen to as it is on Hero Trio, a stellar meeting of compositions, arrangements, and astute performances propelled by real passion.” - Steve Feeney

"Mahanthappa has deep history with both Royston and Moutin, and on the album he often urges them out on the ledge. The intensity of their cohesion shines on 'I’ll Remember April' a standard associated with both Rollins and Parker, and given a syncopated funk treatment here." - Nate Chinen

"Hero Trio is that ‘all-covers’ record, which is about the only thing this boundary-pushing composer, bandleader and ace reedman hadn’t yet attempted in one of the most creative jazz careers since the turn of the 21st century.... here is a large window into what makes Rudresh Mahanthappa tick, what lights his fire, what shaped him into the artist he is today.... Hero Trio has just as many delightful surprises and audacious musicianship as any other Mahanthappa record." - S. Victor Aaron

"In a year of precious little joy, this is quite simply a jewel of a jazz record." - Jason Bilvins

"A near perfect mix of buoyancy and mastery, a welcome revelation.” - Robert Baird

"Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, whose music I can’t stop boasting about…is on a hot streak. Mahanthappa’s latest, Hero Trio, is bound to be album of the year." - Daniel King

“These tributes burst with so much interpretive ingenuity, sparkling friction and caffeinated improvisational interplay that they demand considerable replay." ☆☆☆☆ - John Murph