2014 January 03

The Earfull Episode 11 – Sunny Jain

Happy New Year! In this episode, percussionist, composer and band leader Sunny Jain describes growing up Jain in Rochester, New York, his struggles with the music industry, and his composition process. Listen on iTunes!


Sunny Jain was born in Rochester, on April 22nd, 1975. In 2008, he founded the pioneering Brooklyn Bhangra band, Red Baraat. “One of the best party bands around. Favorite Live Shows of 2011” (NPR). This past year Red Baraat performed over 100 club shows and festivals across the world, including Bonnaroo Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival and a special performance at the White House and the Paralympics closing ceremony in London. “Banging out their high-octane fusion they’re irresistible: serial party-starters” (The Guardian, UK).

Sunny Jain is recognized as a lead voice in the burgeoning movement of South Asian-American jazz musicians. His 7 albums have all received international acclaim for their “groundbreaking synthesis” (Coda Magazine), as he brings together the ancient sounds of his cultural heritage, America’s greatest original art form and a host of other sounds.

Jain is also the drummer and dhol player for Junoon, the biggest rock band to emerge from South Asia. In 2011, they recorded the single “Open Your Eyes,” featuring Peter Gabriel, to raise awareness and funds for Pakistani flood victims. In 2010, Junoon delivered a Concert for Pakistan at the United Nations in NYC, for the displaced refugees in the Swat Valley. The band closed out 2007 with a milestone performance at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, playing for Nobel Laureates Al Gore and Rajendra Paucharia. Jain played dhol/percussion in the first ever Indian Broadway show, Bombay Dreams (2004) and made his Hollywood debut playing dhol in the movie, Accidental Husband, starring Uma Thurman, Colin Firth, and Isabella Rossellini.

Jain has performed/recorded with Kiran Ahluwalia, Asphalt Orchestra, Joey Baron, Kenny Barron, Marc Cary, Samir Chatterjee, DJ Rekha, Kyle Eastwood, Peter Gabriel, Grupo Fantasma, Norah Jones, Junoon, Andres Levin, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Marching Fourth Band, Q-Tip, Soul Rebels, Martha Wainwright, Kenny Wollesen, and many others.

Jain has been a recipient of composition and performance grants from the Aaron Copland Music Fund, Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, globalFEST and received the Arts International Award in both 2005 and 2003 to enable touring India with his jazz group, Sunny Jain Collective. In 2002, Jain was designated a Jazz Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State and The Kennedy Center, for which he toured West Africa. Jain is the author of 2 instructional drum books for Alfred Publishing (The Total Jazz Drummer and Drum Atlas: India).

More about Sunny

Recordings featured in this episode ordered by appearance:

Red Baraat: NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Meri Bhavan” Jain Bhajan

Tom Sawyer” performed by Rush

Round Midnight” performed by the Miles Davis Quintet

Summertime” performed by Ted Dunbar and Richard Davis

Shruggy Ji” performed by Red Baraat

Kenny Wollesen & Himalaya at the Willisau Jazz Festival in 2007

Punjab Wedding Song” performed by Red Baraat

This episode of the Earfull was originally recorded on November 19th, 2013 and released on January 3rd, 2014. The cover art for the Earfull was made by Hallie Bean. I’d like to thank Sunny Jain for sitting down with me and you for listening. For more information on Sunny, please visit his website at sunnyjain.com. For more information on Red Baraat, you can visit their website at redbaraat.com.  As always, you can find the Earfull on the iTunes music store, and also on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.