calcutta slide guitar

brothers, Subhasis & Debashish Bhattcharya

brothers, Subhasis & Debashish Bhattcharya

“I didn’t introduce myself or the music at the beginning. Music is the best voice to speak in.”

Those were the words offered by slide guitarist Pandit (“master”) Debashish Bhattacharya at the conclusion of the first couple of unannounced ragas in tonight’s recital with his brother, tabla master Subhasis Bhattcharya. It was held at the UVM recital hall, sponsored by the Friends of Indian Music and Dance. And it was the opening concert on the brothers’ tour in support of their new (third) recording, O Shakuntala! on Riverboat Records.

Several years of listening to their first two recordings (Calcutta Slide Guitar, and last year’s Grammy nominee, Calcutta Chronicles) were little preparation for the impact of their live show. How do two people make that much music? Part of the answer lies in the 22-string chaturangui, an instrument of Debashish Bhattcharya’s own invention, and one of the self-described “trinity of guitars” he plays. It makes a big sound. But that’s only part of it.

The truth is, brothers Debashish and Subhasis are a singleminded musical force. They think and play as one, in music that ranges from the esoterically introspective to the frenetically precise, in the traditional Hindustani classical music of North India to the vocally-oriented Carnatic sounds of the South…often all in the same piece.

I couldn’t have enjoyed this more.

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