About Shez Raja
Virtuoso British-Asian bass player Shez Raja formed his London-based group with the vision of creating exciting and evocative music - a sonic kaleidoscope of Indojazzfunk, tuneful ragas and euphoric grooves.
The band's live show is an eclectic headcharge of raw energy, always leaving audiences uplifted, inspired and asking for more! Following spectacular performances at top UK venues and major international jazz festivals from Russia to New Zealand, they have amassed a devoted following and forged a reputation as one of the most entertaining live acts on the scene today.
The group has released five highly-acclaimed albums. Their latest all-star recording, Gurutopia, was released in April 2016 on US label Dot Time Records. Featuring global jazz legends Mike Stern and Randy Brecker, as well as the cream of the UK jazz scene, the recording captures the raw energy of the band’s thrilling live shows. Garnering extraordinary reviews, it’s a truly compelling listening experience with original compositions and breathtaking virtuosity.
Raja says, “Collaborating with Randy and Mike has been an incredible and enlightening experience. I’m so grateful for the passion and sensitivity that they’ve so generously contributed to this album. This recording represents a major milestone on my journey as a musician and I’m overjoyed with what we’ve created together as a band”.
Shez regularly collaborates with stars of the British and international jazz world. Stellar line-ups on his albums and live shows also include John Etheridge, Dennis Rollins, Denys Baptiste, Oren Marshall and Arun Ghosh.
The new record follows the vibrant live album of 2014 - Soho Live - featuring Soweto Kinch, Shabaka Hutchings and Jay Phelps and studio album Mystic Radikal (2010) featuring Andy Sheppard, Monika Lidke and Claude Deppa, with both records released on 33 Jazz Records.
The varied line-ups create fascinating musical interactions, keeping the music both exciting and fresh so that each live show is different. The core band is Pascal Roggen, Chris Nickolls, Vasilis Xenopoulos, Alex Stanford.
Shez Raja was born to an Asian father and English mother, on the Wirral, in the North-West of England. Classically trained on the violin from the age of 9, a few years later he traded the instrument for electric bass and hasn’t looked back since.
Educated at Leeds College of Music, Raja toured the UK with groups such as Elephant Talk and Loka (signed to renowned label Ninja Tune) before becoming a highly sought-after session musician.
He then went on to perform at Glastonbury Festival, the prestigious Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Shepherd's Bush Empire and the London Forum, as well as touring Europe with platinum-selling hip-hop artist MC Lyte. Shez has appeared on BBC 1, MTV, national TV in Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand and has featured on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM, XFM and BBC Radio London Live.
In his formative years, Shez went on trips to the Punjab region of the Indian sub-continent with his father and immersed himself in the musical culture of his South Asian roots, learning Indian tabla drumming. He now merges his rich musical heritage with his hugely diverse playing experience to create dynamic and passionate music.
Shez’s mission as an artist is to be authentic with his emotions, develop his own unique voice and to explore the language of music to become fully self-expressed. He concludes, “I believe the ultimate goal for a musician is to make music that is raw, real and from the heart, that moves and inspires people”.