Posts Tagged ‘tabla’

calcutta slide guitar

September 20, 2009
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.

life at the crossroads

February 24, 2009

Everyone I know has heard me say this at some point. Probably more than once…it’s a surprisingly well kept secret outside the state, but when it comes to arts and culture we don’t miss anything living in Vermont! Yes, it undoubtedly has something to do with our unique and fortunate geography, being right in the middle of the travel triangle between the artistic destinations of Montreal, NYC, and Boston. Does it matter that’s the reason? Yeah right. (And geography isn’t the only reason, just one of the big contributors. I truly believe people here are innately more creatively minded and gifted…must be all that clean air and natural inspiration working for us. ;) 

Another example: tonight Radio Bean will be hosting a two-person show of North Indian classical music, 7-9pm. The artists are Benjamin Stewart (tabla) and Paul Crowley (sitar).

I had a chance meeting with Benjamin a week ago, just as my show was ending at the Radiator. He had come in with Lee Anderson to do some training on the board before getting his own show (Weds. mornings, 8-10am) When I found out he’d be doing a show dedicated to Indian classical music, I thought to mention a show I had caught at the North End Studio the night before, also tabla (Gabe Halberg ) and sitar (Neel Murgai).

Even as I started talking about it I recalled the table of enthusiastic younger folks who had been sitting in front of me, and I realized that Benjamin had been part of that group. Nice to find we’d shared that amazing experience.

It’s not very often one has a chance to see Indian classical music being played in a live setting. It’s very difficult music to play, for one thing, and then even when qualified players can be found it requires just the right time and place to allow the music to unfold in its long-form expression without some of the usual constraints or expectations one might have from another kind of concert. Often, as was the case in the Gabe/Neel recital, one single, colorful, complex piece unwinds and fills up each ‘half’ of the show.

That there are TWO of these rare recitals taking place within a two-week period here really says it all: we don’t miss anything here! Looking forward to it tonight. Hope to see you there.


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