Sameer Gupta + Ben Tyree = Unruly Neighbors
Improvised Percussion and Guitar Conversations – Cosmosis AF
Unruly Neighbors exemplifies the rooted rebelliousness that spawns new realities.
Unruly Neighbors is an improvisational duo based in Brooklyn, NY composed of guitarist Ben Tyree and drummer/percussionist Sameer Gupta. In 2020, the duo heard the increasingly urgent call for co-creating new visions for what the world could look like post-pandemic. They answered with their joint debut recording project, Unruly Neighbors (Sonic Architectures) – a largely improvisational sculpture of electric and acoustic sound that is, at once, emotive, gritty, and transcendent. The album weaves a contrast of Tyree’s searching, dark and, at times, piercing tone with the tickling, trance-inducing drive of Gupta’s hybrid tabla/drum kit, creating dream-like washes of sound that play out to the many tensions and uncertainties of these times.
Refusing to adhere to the norms of any one culture, the duo moves boldly into an exploration of music as a language of resistance, nature and pure sound. With a deep bow to devotional jazz influences, Gupta describes an ethereal quality to the music, “the way Sun Ra records vibrate the air in a certain way – there is something there beyond our conception of the music, embedded in the vibration.” Taking on risk as a core musical device, Gupta and Tyree acknowledge that while the rewards can be rare, the foundation of trust between them mitigates against the dangers of failure. Their attitude of absolute affirmation is a “both/and” embrace that allows them to work past the struggle of fear into the potentiality of the musical unknown.
Sameer Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drumset, and Indian classical music on tabla. Sameer is originally a jazz drummer learning from his peers in San Francisco and Harlem NYC. His own interests and love of jazz and tabla brought him to Brooklyn, NYC, and today he is actively involved in performing, curating, producing and teaching through various institutions including the Outside (In)dia Series, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Carnegie Hall’s Global Encounters and Ragas Live Festival.
Guitarist Ben Tyree is a performer and composer of virtuosic ability, infectious groove, and eclectic tastes. All of those elements are placed on stunning display on albums released by his own Sonic Architectures label (re:Vision – 2010, Thoughtform Variations – 2012, Burn It! LIVE – 2014, Lifelines – 2020, and Sameer Gupta + Ben Tyree = Unruly Neighbors – 2020). Originally from Washington, DC – having attended the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts and subsequently majored in Jazz Studies at Howard University – Tyree has been NYC-based since 2002. His versatility has additionally led to work with artists as diverse as Vernon Reid, Valerie June, Elliott Sharp, Brooklyn Raga Massive, and the mainstay Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber to name a few.