Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa is best known for his prowess at applying the principles of Indian classical music to contemporary jazz. But don’t pigeonhole him as the academic type. Reared in Colorado during the ’70s, Mahanthappa, now based in New York, is the child of another tradition entirely. His skill with ragas is acquired. His love of funk and progressive rock is seemingly innate.

Rudresh Mnhanthappa showcased a complex and funky sound at Blues Alley on Thursday. (Photos by Josh Sisk/For The Washington Post)