About Ramesh

Ramesh Shotham-Biography ‘All music is, in some sense, a journey, but some musicians travel further than others. Percussionist Ramesh Shotham is one such. Originally a rock drummer with one of India¹s most successful bands Human Bondage, he underwent something of a conversion in the mid 1970s and was drawn back towards the music of his homeland. He has been steadily clocking up yet more miles in this musical journey, collaborating in the 1990s with jazz visionaries like saxophonists Steve Coleman and Charlie Mariano, composer Carla Bley and oud player Rabih Abou Khalil. Then came his own group, Madras Special, which may be a summation of all that he has learnt and discovered along the way.’ (Cormac Larkin in the Irish Sunday Tribune, 23.07.06) Based in Germany, since the early 1980s, Shotham chose to live permanently in the city of Cologne around 1990, and became a German citizen in the year 2000. Nowadays, Shotham¹s arsenal includes a bewildering array of percussion Instruments, ranging from diverse Indian traditional drums to selected pieces of the modern drum kit. He has been, over the years, working closely with companies such as Meinl Percussion, Wahan Drums and Anatolian Cymbals in developing, enhancing and endorsing their products. Shotham’s use of traditional Indian drums in Orchestral and Big Band settings is quite unique. His work with the Carla Bley Big Band (Escalator Over The Hill), the WDR Big Band (Sketches of Bangalore/Karnataka College of Percussion, Niedecken’s ‘Deutschlandlieder’), BujazzO (Tour of India during the German Cultural Year 2011) and Phoenix Foundation (Indian Tour 2013), is well documented. He has been closely associated with the Renga project of the LPO (London Philharmonic Orchestra), playing original ‘World Music’ compositions with some of the finest classical musicians from London. His forays into the Western Classical world also saw him playing percussion in Nationaltheater Mannheim’s production of the Baroque Opera ‘Alessandro’, directed by the famous Günter Krämer. Besides fulfilling his busy touring and studio schedules, Shotham has been active in the field of music education. He has created special concepts for teaching rhythms to musicians (as well as to lay people), based on the unique drum language and mathematics of the music of South India. ‘GlobalTala’ and ‘Talking Rhythm’ Workshops represent these concepts. Shotham has conducted workshops at music conservatories in Weimar, Cologne, Nürnberg, and Rostock. During the last 3 years, Shotham has been involved in ‘Kultur und Schule’ projects, working with children. He is currently a regular member of the World Percussion Academy’s annual meetings at the Landesmusikakademie in Heek.

Summer 2014 Bolivia

Eastern Flowers in Bolivia

Eastern Flowers in Bolivia

When the album ‘Mineralle’ was being promoted here in Germany and Europe, the band was spread over three continents: pianist Jarry Singla in Bolivia, bassist Christian Ramond in Germany, and myself in Bangladesh. Journalists, from the print media and from radio, didn’t have it easy trying to locate us via emails and phone calls for interviews!

Jarry decided to get the band together in Bolivia for a tour. His efforts paid off and Christian and I flew to La Paz vis Bogota to perform at three Festijazz concerts in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. We also conducted workshops for kids at the German School in Achumani, La Paz. The audiences at all the venues were fantastic and our music was well-received.


Bolivia is a fascinating country with its huge indigenous population and its awe-inspiring natural surroundings. We were based most of the time in La Paz, some 3500m above sea level. But we had time to take trips into the mountains, visiting the foothills of Mount Illimani, spending an afternoon walking around and trying to imbibe the spirit of Pachamama, Mother Earth! Being so high up in the rarefied atmosphere of the mountains was quite a unique experience. Above a small selection of photos I shot using my iPhone5.

Spring 2014

On the road with Mahaphon Clang once again, this time not only in India, but in  Pakistan (Karachi) and in Bangladesh (Dhaka). It was in February and very intense, not just the tight traveling schedules but also the energy of the group on stage at almost every venue. It was, for me, a musician who has seen it all, a revelation to observe how these four young men (Jan Kurth, Lutz Streun, Demian Kappenstein and Matthias Kurth) acclimatized so easily to being in cities like Goa, Pondicherry, Chennai, Bangalore, Karachi and Dhaka. In Chennai we spent three days at the Clementine Studio recording some exciting music to be released in September 2014 on the Jazz Werkstatt label based in Berlin.



Spring 2013

One of the highlights this spring was definitely the coming together of the original Human Bondage: Fred Manricks, Xerxes Gobhai, Babu Joseph, Suresh Shottam and myself! We met up in Goa in February after much planning to get one week together, to hang, reminisce and jam! It couldn’t have been more perfect!

Two weeks later the Phoenix Foundation Youth Jazz Orchestra led by Frank Reichert landed up in India for a 5-city tour. I organised the whole thing with the help of my jazz-loving friends in various Indian cities. I also received support from Goethe Institutes in Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. The band played a set of selected modern big band arrangements of well-known tunes followed by an Indo-Jazz-Fusion set featuring singer Ramamani and myself. Arrangements of the 4 original tunes (DaPa, Panchamukhi, Xillob and Five Cities) for this set were done by my friend Ronan Guilfoyle, bassist, composer, arranger and educator from Dublin. The young musicians of the Phoenix Foundation blew away the audiences in India! The 4 new arrangements have been documented and will be released on CD along with material recorded on their Korean tour.


Immediately after returning from India on the 14th of March, I drove down to Reichenberg near Würzburg to play at the Guitar Masters Festival with Larry Coryell and Kazumi Watanabe. Needless to say, it was a fabtastic experience!

Back in Cologne dancer Benedetta Reuter and I finished a ‘Kultur und Schule’ project we started in 2012 at the Heinrich Böll Gesamtschule.

This was followed by gigs with Ensemble Fisfüz and Mandala with Sigi Schwab. Though the weather is cold and wet right now, I’m looking forward to a terrific summer:))