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 including Ronnie Scott’s and Jazz Cafe as well as 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.
2019 sees the release of Shez's highly anticipated new album Journey to Shambhala. Journey to Shambhala is inspired by Raja’s self-composed tale of a young man who embarks on an adventure to discover the mystical city of Shambhala. He has a wild experience of excitement, danger, friendships, love and deceit - told through a musical voyage of soundscapes from exhilarating jazz-funk to enchanting ballads. The search for happiness is something we can all relate to and this concept album holds the message that, as in life, the journey often holds as much wonder as the destination. The CD includes a story booklet that reveals how each scene inspired the compositions on the album.
The album recording sees award-winning Indian percussion guru Trilok Gurtu and US guitar genius Wayne Krantz joining Shez on his journey, alongside the UK’s fast-rising DJ and remixer Happy Cat Jay who reworks key tracks in a style that is all his own. The 'Epiphany' single is accompanied by an innovative animated music video and the ‘Dharma dance’ single is available on a special ‘direct to vinyl’ 7” recording, on Gearbox Records.
Raja says, “My vision for this album was to merge my rich musical heritage with my diverse playing experience to create exciting and passionate music that blends East with West. Collaborating with Trilok and Wayne has been an incredibly inspiring experience and I’m so grateful for the originality and artistry that they’ve contributed to this album”.
The last three years have been a turning point for Raja - from the release of the critically-acclaimed album Gurutopia (on US label Dot Time Records) featuring global jazz legends Mike Stern and Randy Brecker, an ‘Inside The Mind’ feature on BBC Radio 3's Jazz Line-Up, to performing at EFG London Jazz Festival and to a 800 capacity crowd at Islington Assembly Hall in London.
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.
Previous releases include 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.
In 2019 Shez was voted one of the top 30 'Hottest Bass Players in the World' by readers of Bass Guitar and Bass Player magazines.
Shez Raja was born to a Pakistani 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, Islington Assembly Hall 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 and Jazz FM.
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 tabla drumming.
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”.