Radhika de Saram was born in Sri Lanka to a family of classical musicians and moved to London aged five in 1996. She started violin lessons at a young age, receiving a scholarship to study at the Primary and Junior departments of the Royal Academy of Music in London. While she was growing up she was the member of a string quartet which toured and played concerts throughout the UK. At age sixteen she won a Specialist Music Award to study at Wells Cathedral School in Somerset. It was during her time there that she developed an interest in jazz, listening ardently to a handful of her favourite records by Thelonius Monk, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. On visits to London she began to explore the local jazz scene, attending small gigs often run by recent music college graduates.
In 2010 Radhika attended University College London to study Modern Languages. Now back in London, she began having jazz piano lessons sporadically and had the opportunity to attend many more gigs and jam sessions. Since graduating Radhika has been actively freelancing as a violinist in London, performing and recording regularly with the London Contemporary Orchestra and Chineke! Orchestra. She performs frequently in prestigious venues such as the Barbican, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall amongst others and tours regularly in UK and Europe. She has recorded violin on the soundtracks for films such as ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ which won an Oscar for Best Music, ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ , ‘Tar’, ‘Overlord’ and ‘One Life’ and for albums by bands such as The National and The Smile amongst others, as well as performing as part of a string section with icons such as Grace Jones, Alicia Keys, Eric Calpton and Little Simz.
Around six years ago she bought a bass guitar, inspired particularly after watching a trio of Tim Lefebvre, Zhenya Strigalev and Eric Harland perform. They played two gigs at a very intimate venue in Berlin and it was eye opening to see how three musicians who barely ever have the chance to play together or even to get to know each other, click immediately and communicate in the most conversational way through music. She began to realise what a versatile instrument the bass guitar was- its ability to be virtuosic, melodic, or really part of the rhythmic groove and much more, and was excited to observe the variety in which different bass players use and connect with the instrument.
Since the Covid lockdown Radhika has focused her attention on developing her style on bass guitar and writing her own compositions, and has toured her project around UK, Germany and even Sri Lanka, performing her compositions with local musicians there. ‘From the Crow’s Nest’ is Radhika’s debut album. The majority of these tunes were written during the lockdown and was her first time composing. From the Crow’s Nest depicts the feelings she was having at that time – at a standpoint, having plenty of time to reflect on past experiences and to gather up ideas, plans and energy for the journey and challenges ahead. Musical influences include folk music from her native country, Sri Lanka, as well as jazz and other styles she’s encountered while travelling and while working as a freelancer in London. A lot of these tunes have also been shaped by memories of my childhood. She hopes to convey her feelings of exploring new territory as well as some nostalgic contemplations through the pieces on this album.
From the Crow’s Nest
Little Sloth Bear
Carolin’s Red Scarf
Do it Now
Old Cane Chair
Arrack and Lion
All compositions by Radhika de Saram
Zhenya Strigalev: saxophone (all tracks)
Garry Bagdasaryan: drums (all tracks)
Radhika de Saram: bass guitar (all tracks)
Elliot Galvin: keys (‘Little Sloth Bear’ ‘Straight’ and ‘Arrack and Lion’)
Evgeny Ponomarev: keys (‘Do it Now’)
Rodion Grischenko: guitar (‘Adalar’ and ‘Old Cane Chair’)