Press Release

Drummer/Composer Rajiv Jayaweera Presents Pistils

This collection of original compositions by New York-based Rajiv Jayaweera is a deeply personal reflection of his strong South Asian culture and identity that is dear to his heart.

Featuring Chris Cheek (soprano & tenor saxophones), Aaron Parks (piano), Hugh Stuckey (guitar), Sam Anning (double bass), Rajiv Jayaweera (drums, cymbals, thammattama, caxixi), Lara Bello (voice).

Available June 5, 2020 on Outside in Music / Earshift Music (Australia/Asia)

Pistils is the debut recording from Sri Lankan/Australian jazz drummer and composer, Rajiv Jayaweera. The album showcases eight compelling, thoughtful originals, which draw inspiration from Sri Lanka. Jayaweera’s compositions feature strong melodies and beauty, coupled with intricate bass lines and rhythmic interplay. His band of Chris Cheek (soprano & tenor saxophones), Aaron Parks (piano), Hugh Stuckey (guitar) and Sam Anning (double bass), truly display why they are amongst the most revered and sought-after musicians on the scene today.

The album is bookended by two different versions of the title track, Pistils. The first is sparse and free of time, with the profoundly emotive vocals of special guest, Lara Bello. It closes with a stripped back trio take with guitar, saxophone and drums playing the “Pistils” theme, with the style of the great Paul Motian trio in mind. The melody of Pistils is a monumental achievement, and the centerpiece of this wonderful debut from an artist overflowing with potential and possibilities. One of the most special characteristics in Sri Lanka is the variety of flowers that exist there. In trying to get to the essence of these flowers, you find the seed-bearing organs, collectively known as “pistils.” Jayaweera was drawn to the word pistils because it took him to the heart of these flowers.

"Ellstandissa", featuring the relatively unknown Thammattama drum (also known as a temple drum), a two-headed traditional drum played with a pair of fascinating curly wooden sticks and most commonly used in cultural ceremonies, incorporates rhythms from a Sri Lankan dance entitled Gajaga Wannama, or dance of the elephant, in 7/8 time. The main melody of the song is circular and haunting, and is played over a counter melody that superimposes a polyrhythmic figure. Ellstandissa is a made up word combining the names of the composer’s grandparents.

It’s fitting that the next track is "Welikadawatte", translating to Welikada Gardens in Sinhalese. It is an area in central Colombo (the commercial capital and largest city in Sri Lanka), originally home to many large cinnamon and coconut plantations. For over forty years this was where Rajiv’s grandparents lived and a place he would visit each year. Musically, this piece is reminiscent of Ahmad Jamal’s famous tune, Poinciana. The "Elephant", once again incorporating the Thammattama drum, conjures up the image of anelephant walking through the jungle.

Hirimbura is Rajiv’s Grandfather’s hometown in the south of Sri Lanka. The piece has ‘stompy’ Charles Mingus-esque feel that is simultaneously modern and traditional in nature. The strong quarter-note pulse instinctively makes you want to tap your foot or click your fingers along to it. A "Malkoha Bird" is a tropical bird endemic to Sri Lanka with a long graduated tail. This is the only song on the album where saxophonist Chris Cheek switches from tenor to soprano, singing the melody like a bird.

Press Enquiries on RAJIV JAYAWEERA & PISTILS: Contact Jason Paul Harman Byrne @ Red Cat Publicity Tel +1 646 259 2105, Email