Peter Hinz (percussion) and Steffen Dix (saxophone) travelled to India for the first time in February 2014. They took lessons in Indian classical music at the “International Music Centre Ashram” in Varanasi, which is considered to be one of the main music capitals of India. Soon after connecting with tabla teacher Keshav Rao Nayak (tabla master of the ashram), his son Sandip Rao Kewale (tabla) and the young sitar master Shyam Rastogi at the ashram, the two German musicians founded the music project “NeckarGanga”. The complete band, including the bass player Jonathan Sell, was established in Mannheim in July 2015. Thanks to the support of the city of Mannheim and the Oriental Music Academy Mannheim, the band was able to prepare a concert program and present their first live concerts in Germany. In July 2016 NeckarGanga released their first Album entitled „innaad“, with which they toured throughout Germany and Switzerland.
The Band met up again in February 2017 and they played two concerts in Varanasi. In June and July 2017 they then embarked on their biggest tour so far, which brought them to play at 22 different venues spread over Germany, Czech Republic and Switzerland. Two of their highlights being: to be able to play at Germany´s biggest world music and folk festival in Rudolstadt and to play at “b flat” in Berlin. During this tour the band’s first music video “Banares Blues” was released on youtube. The project continued touring in Europe in 2018 and 2019 and recorded their second Album “Swanaad” which was released in May 2020.
Due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic, the group was not able to meet for nearly three years. However, despite the forced distance, NeckarGanga found alternative ways to continue their creative journey. With the financial support of the German cultural grant “reloaded” and thanks to the collaboration with creative coder Nicola Pisanti and visual designer Antonio Pipolo, they developed an online software allowing them to share ideas and create new music in an instant moment. For this digital project, NeckarGanga collaborated with many talented artists such as singer MD Pallavi from Bangalore, Turkish Violinist Güldeste Mamac and guitar player Ephraim Gipen. More details about this project you can find here: www.neckargangareloaded.com
In summer 2022 the group was eventually able to reunite in person. The Indian musicians came over to Europe and they played a few concerts in Germany and Switzerland.
NeckarGanga is now planning a tour in India for February 2023.
Album Release „Innaad“ 2017 (Label: DMG)
„NeckarGanga fuse the complexity of indian music with european Jazzrock. Their debut album „Innaad“ starts where Ravi Shankar once caused a sensation. Music like on the record “Innaad” is universal and thrilling.” betreutesproggen.de
Album Release „Swanaad“ 2020 (Independent)
„This sextett is capable of creating an impressivly fat sound. But still it’s incredients and the structures of the compositions are always distinguishable.”Musikreviews.de
Album covers artwork by Jens Richter
Peter Hinz – Percussion
Shyam Rastogi – Sitar
Sandip Rao Kewale – Tabla
Keshava Rao Nayak – Tabla
Jonathan Sell – Double Bass
Steffen Dix – Saxophone
Peter Hinz, percussionist, was born in 1983 in Genoa, Italy. He studied Jazz and Popular music at the Conservatory for Music and Performing Arts in Mannheim. His professional career began during his studies with different projects. He was awarded his Masters of Music in 2009. His travels through the world to countries like Brazil, India, Tunisia or Turkey and their multi layered cultural and artistic diversity strongly influence his music. Peter plays in many music projects including AbstraktOrkestra (Modern Jazz), Volxtanz (Balkan Jazz), NeckarGanga (Indian-Jazz) but also as composer and performer in different theater companies as the National Theater Mannheim, EinTanzHaus Mannheim or the Schauburg Munich.
Dr. Shyam Rastogi is a Sitar and Surbahar player (north Indian classical string instruments), composer and graded artist from “All India Radio”, working in “National School of Drama”, New Delhi. Dr. Rastogi has been received awards form national level organizations. He worked with many eminent theatre directors as composer and music director. He is also a band member of ICCR empanelled music band Rudraksham and the international fusion band NeckarGanga. Dr. Rastogi has performed on many national and international stages and music festivals.
Sandip Rao Kewale (born 1982 in Varanasi) is a indian Tabla player from a family of musicians. Since his childhood he learned tabla with his father Keshava Rao Nayak. He studied music at the „Banaras Hindu University“. Since 2015 he is member of the group „NeckarGanga“ and playing concert tours in India and Europe. Achievments and awards: National Youth Festival Gold Medal in solo Performance of Tabla, Manipur-2004. Gold Medal Prayag Sangeen Samiti Competition Allahabad, 2005. Baiju Bawara Musical Honour-2010First Prize in Inter University Youth Festival, ‘Spandan’, Varanasi-2010
Keshava Rao Nayak (born 1955 in Varanasi, India) is an international performing Tabla player and teacher in the Banaras Gharana (style and heritage of Varanasi). In 1980 he founded the „International Music Center Ashram“ – a school for Indian Classical Music. Since his performance in 1984 in Luknow he is the only Tabla player who played 85 hours continuously. He also played several concert tours with different projects in the 1980s in Germany and Scandinavia. Since 2015 he is again touring internationally with NeckarGanga.
Jonathan Sell plays in a wide range of styles, from western classical music to progressive rock, from jazz to oriental maqam. A central characteristic of his play is the interpretation of music as the universal language that overcomes cultural, national and stylistic borders. He is a member of the Orientalische Musikakademie Mannheim, where he commits himself to cultural exchange through music. Beside ,NeckarGanga’ groups like ‘Haz’art Trio’ (Arabic Jazz) ,The Swindlers‘ (Prog Rock & Jazz), ,Tuyala‘ (Spoken Word & Jazz), and ,Fityan‘ (Oriental Jazz Rock) are his most important means of expression.
Steffen Dix (born in 1981 in Ulm, Germany) studied jazz saxophone, clarinet and flute at “State Conservatory of Music” in Stuttgart (Ger) and Vienna (A). He graduated summa cum laude in 2009. Since then he is working as a freelance musician and composer in several projects combining jazz, world music, electronic music and visual arts. Awards: “Young Lions Jazz Award 2009”, “Creole award for global music in germany” 2014 with his Brass Band “Volxtanz”, “Dieter Seelow Jazzfond Prize” 2016 for his work with cross-cultural group “NeckarGanga”!