After a ‘false start’ due to technical problems, Eclectic Soundtrax listeners gain insight into revelational world music musicians Joshua Thomson (alto saxophone, flute) and Josh Peters (oud, lavta), the core members of Austin’s Atlas Maior. Since their inception more than a decade ago, this evolving ensemble of various musicians have been steadily creating original compositions, combining elements of progressive jazz with Middle Eastern, Latin American, traditional Indian and other worldly musical styles.
To date, the acclaimed group has released five albums and several singles, each exploring new harmonic and rhythmic territory.
Incorporating an array of ethnic musical systems (such as the Middle Eastern maqamat modes) and instrumentation into something uniquely their own, Atlas Maior has received many accolades in their tenure, including the City of Austin’s Proclamation of March 27th as “Atlas Maior Day”. They have toured both on native soil, as well as through France, Spain and Turkey and have opened internationally for such praised artists as Kaki King, Vieux Farka Toure and Tal National.
Atlas Maior has also performed at prestigious music festivals such as SXSW, Pueblos Blancos, Wobeonfest and the City of Austin’s F1 Fanfest; they have also collaborated with a plethora of talented musicians across the world, including Lou Lou Ghelichkani (of Thievery Corporation), Raquy Danziger, Ali Pervez Mehdi, Fared Shafinury, Indajit Banerjee and Alan Chehab Quartet. In this episode of ESP, hosts Victor Ramos and Skunk Manhattan talk with Atlas Maior members about projects past and present, the Austin of yore, the two Joshs’ early influences and musical backgrounds in both Michigan and Texas, as well as the importance of consistent practice, performance and professionalism. If you are a fan of world music, jazz, musical improvisation and unique instrumentation, Atlas Maior is a band you want to check out!
About the podcasters
Skunk is a musician, primarily known as the frontman and guitarist for eclectic heavy-rock band A Good Rogering. Since moving to Austin in 2004, he has recorded and performed with a wide variety of bands and solo artists over a career spanning more than 20 years and has shared the stage with notable acts, such as Skid Row, Marty Friedman, Uli Jon Roth, George Lynch and Metal Church among others. Skunk not only works as a performing musician and recording artist, but also as a producer and music teacher. With two decades of insight into what it means to be a professional musician and a passion for not only music, but comedy and general chatter, Skunk was quick to jump at the opportunity to co-host a podcast with longtime friend, Victor Ramos.
A Texas native, Victor’s early musical influences are a mixture of classic rock albums played by his Vietnam vet father and a whole lot of ‘the Fab Four’ via his Beatles-loving mother. Sprinkle in some classic country and Motown, and you have a man that would say “¿que?” when other Tejanos would ask what his favorite cumbia was. After a stint in the Marines, Victor moved to Austin in 2000 and began working in the tech industry. He met Skunk in a Spanish class in 2005 and the two discovered a shared passion for not only beer, but music. After years of collectively attending concerts and talking music, the idea to start a podcast centering around such topics seemed like a logical endeavor.