The evening of two halves was introduced by the Asian Music Circuit who curated the night’s performances. The first half of the show was a collaboration of two cultures – that of India and Cuba via London. Hari Sivanesan, a Veena player and Pirashanna Thevarajah, a thunderous Mridangam maestro both London born were joined by two wonderful musicians from Cuba, the much-admired Cuban violinist Omar Puente and percussionist Oscar Martinez.
This quartet unravelled a beautiful concoction of sounds that amalgamated the structure and discipline of the South Indian Carnatic style with the more playful jazz laced rhythms of Cuba. Contrary to what people may think, these two styles marry well. This is beautifully demonstrated on the track “Vio-Veena” (written by Puente) which as the name suggests was an exchange between the Violin and Veena, against a backdrop of Indian and Cuban percussion.
“Maa” (meaning Mother) was a commissioned piece (written by Hari) for the show, which as Hari described is about the message of the mother’s love through melody – representing a journey of lullabies from various cultures around the world.
A fabulous display of musical vigour!
After a short break, Shammi Pithia and his band FLUX were up … This was certainly a treat for the audience as they got to experience some of the tracks from his new EP “Paredolia” (OUT NOW). Shammi was joined on stage with some of the finest home grown musicians London has to offer:
- Michael Goodey on piano, guitar, synthesiser, sitar.
- Ian Newton-Grant drums, percussion
- Suroj Sureshbabu guitars
- Salima Barday double bass
- Preetha Narayanan violin
- Alice Barron violin
- Natasha Zielazinski cello
- Damien Langkamer electric bass
There were some magnificent renditions from his first EP “Cinema for the Ears” and debut album “Audio Descriptive” and a couple of FLUX tracks – The Seeker, Poem without Words, Overcome, Pacifist and Ajnabee Anjani, to name a few.
Singing on the night was a pool of talent: the very soulful Ambika Jois who showcased her tremendously powerful voice with such charisma. The classical vocalist Unnati Dasgupta, Urban/R’n'B artist Ash King and providing Hindustani classical vocals was the spectacular Jatanil Banerjee, who moved the crowd with Ajnabee Anjani.
What a second half! – the audience were certainly wowed, after the show there was a buzz in the atmosphere. The crowd’s reaction was a direct result of the hard work of bringing together 12 people (no easy task) and executing that show like it was a walk in the park. Watching them on stage was a brilliant, smiles and banter amongst the musicians made the set more enjoyable to experience!
I’ve been following Shammi’s music since the release of his first EP and the progress he has made is outstanding. He is certainly building a solid name for himself as a composer/producer and multi-instrumentalist. As I tweeted on the night “Composers when in their element must be connected to the divine. It requires a certain level of genius to achieve this” and that is Shammi!
My respects go out to all the musicians and singers who performed on the night … it was a night of epic proportions!
*Thanks to Kabir Gobin for providing the video footage.
Monday 17 May 2010
A beautiful journey southwards – Sudakshini is the title of Anoushka Shankar’s latest venture. An entirely acoustic project consisting of the majestic traditional ragas to newly composed ones including those created by her guru and father, Ravi Shankar.
The evening was a testament to exploring the affiliation between traditional northern and southern styles of Indian classical music. Accompanying Anoushka, were Ravichandra Kulur on Bansuri (Flute) and Kanjira, Pirashanna Thevarajah on the Mridangam, Kanjira and Ghatam, Nick Able on the Tanpura and the absolutely phenomenal maestro Tanmoy Bose on the tabla, making it an unforgettable experience.
Birmingham Town hall is not a big venue at all, with a maximum capacity of just over a thousand people; it was a good choice for the type gig. The stage was bathed in shades of purple and pink lighting, the atmosphere – tense, waiting to be graced by the presence of the supremely talented daughter of legendary sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
I had seen Anoushka perform twice before but with Nitin Sawhney at the BBC Proms in 2007 and then again at the BBC Electric Proms in 2008. However this performance was very different, it was more elegant and beautiful. The show was split in two; the first half consisted of a classical performance of ragas kicked off with Madhukauns, played so elegantly it was like evoking beauty and romance subtly accompanied by Tanmoy Bose to complete the composition.
This below clip piece was also performed but the Violin was replaced with a Bansuri (Flute) Stunning!!!
Anoushka was tranquil, precise and graceful with her music. Like most Indian classical musicians I’ve seen perform, she too had that divine relationship with her Sitar – as she performed she swayed and catching her emotive and expressive facial expressions while she was playing. Like breathing life into each raga as she unfolds and expands it – simply enjoyable to watch.
The second half was more experimental, you’d thinking, hmm, electronic sounds or whipping out a Macbook Pro but nope, it was more about using other instruments in such to create such an incredible array of sounds to tickle the ears. The final set was so intense! Amalgamating the Sitar, Flute, Mridangam, Tanpura and Tabla and creating an interspersed yet coordinated dialogue between all the instruments given each musician an opportunity to display their amazing talents! WOW! … Truly an ear bending piece to finish off with …
Father and Daughter …