Photos by Tayla Nebesky

Photos by Tayla Nebesky

While grounded in the saxophone trio tradition of Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, and Henry Threadgill, Mughal Muesli is a band that seeks to expand and transcend the associations attached to their configuration. Saxophonist Xavier Del Castillo, drummer Vicente Hansen, and bassist Mat Muntz draw on elements from early European polyphony, Hindustani classical music, and 20th/21st century microtonality to inform their unique take on the trio format. Their debut album Imperial Cereal features original compositions, deconstructed standards, and new interpretations of works by Ornette Coleman, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, and J.S. Bach.

The band's name, originally conceived in delirious wordplay at the end of a long rehearsal, has acquired special meaning as the trio has matured. "Mughal" - referring to the North Indian empire of the same name - contains a sense of the weight of history upon all human endeavors. "Muesli" - a healthful mixture of grains and dried fruits invented in Switzerland - represents variety and versatility. Mughal Muesli thus signifies the coexistence of a wide range of influences and the ability to recombine them in tasteful ways.

Individually, Mughal Muesli's members boast extensive and diverse performing experience, having played everywhere from the hallowed halls of Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to renowned jazz venues such as The Jazz Gallery and Cornelia St. Cafe, as well as experimental havens including The Stone and National Sawdust. Compositions by members of the trio have been featured at the DiMenna Center, The Stone, and Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival. Internationally, they have performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival, Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Beijing Nine Gates Jazz Festival, JZ Shanghai, and Blue Note Beijing.