Friday, February 18, 2011

West meets East! Music with an Attitude...

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rock and roll fusions with Indian music were well-known throughout Europe and North America. Ali Akbar Khan's 1955 performance in the United States was perhaps the beginning of this trend.

Chinese Pipa Soloist Gao Hong with Pandit Shubhendra Rao
Original Composition written and performed by Shubhendra Rao, Sitar; Gao Hong, Pipa; with Ty Burhoe, Tabla. Live at Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Jazz pioneers such as John Coltrane—who recorded a composition entitled 'India' during the November 1961 sessions for his album Live At The Village Vanguard (the track was not released until 1963 on Coltrane's album Impressions)—also embraced this fusion. George Harrison (of the Beatles) played the sitar on the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" in 1965, which sparked interest from Shankar, who subsequently took Harrison as his apprentice. Jazz innovator Miles Davis recorded and performed with musicians like Khalil Balakrishna, Bihari Sharma, and Badal Roy in his post-1968 electric ensembles. Virtuoso jazz guitarist John McLaughlin spent several years in Madurai learning Carnatic music and incorporated it into many of his acts including Shakti which featured prominent Indian musicians. Other Western artists such as the Grateful Dead, Incredible String Band, the Rolling Stones, the Move and Traffic soon incorporated Indian influences and instruments, and added Indian performers. Legendary Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia joined guitarist Sanjay Mishra on his classic cd "Blue Incantation" (1995). Mishra also wrote an original score for French Director Eric Heumann for his film Port Djema (1996) which won best score at Hamptons film festival and The Golden Bear at Berlin. in 2000 he recorded Rescue with drummer Dennis Chambers (Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin et al.) and in 2006 Chateau Benares with guests DJ Logic and Keller Williams (guitar and bass).

Birds Firts Flight [Strings Tradition] - 2008
Mamadou Diabate on Kora - Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan on Sitar
Lalgudi Gjr Krishnan : Violin - Gouri shankar : Tabla - Murali Trichy : Ghatam

Though the Indian music craze soon died down among mainstream audiences, die hard fans and immigrants continued the fusion. In 1985, a beat oriented, Raga Rock hybrid called Sitar Power by Ashwin Batish reintroduced sitar in western nations. Sitar Power drew the attention of a number of record labels and was snapped up by Shanachie Records of New Jersey to head their World Beat Ethno Pop division.

Snehasish Mozumder - Duet Indian Mandolin & Guitar - Indo Flamenco Concert - Virgina

In the late 1980s, Indian-British artists fused Indian and Western traditions to make the Asian Underground. Since the 90's, Canadian born musician Nadaka who has spent most of his life in India, has been creating music that is an acoustic fusion of Indian classical music with western styles. One such singer who has merged the Bhakti sangeet tradition of India with the western non-India music is Krishna Das and sells music records of his musical sadhana.

Julian Bream in India (1963) performs an improvisation with Ali Akbar Khan on Sarod along with his tabla player. Very unique footage reveals the wonderful musical personality of Julian Bream. Available as part of the "My Life In Music" DVD.
In the new millennium, American hip-hop has featured Indian filmi and bhangra. Mainstream hip-hop artists have sampled songs from Bollywood movies and have collaborated with Indian artists. Examples include Timbaland's "Indian Flute", Erick Sermon and Redman's "React", Slum Village's "Disco", and Truth Hurts' hit song "Addictive", which sampled a Lata Mangeshkar song, and The Black Eyed Peas sampled Asha Bhosle's song "Yeh Mera Dil" in their hit single "Don't Phunk With My Heart". In 1997, the British band Cornershop paid tribute to Asha Bhosle with their song Brimful of Asha, which became an international hit. British-born Indian artist Panjabi MC also had a Bhangra hit in the U.S. with "Mundian To Bach Ke" which featured rapper Jay-Z. Asian Dub Foundation are not huge mainstream stars, but their politically-charged rap and punk rock influenced sound has a multi-racial audience in their native UK. In 2008, international star Snoop Dogg appeared in a song in the film Singh Is Kinng.

Guitarist John Mclaughlin and violinist L. shankar. Two sisters

Sometimes, the music of India will fuse with the traditional music of other countries. For example, Delhi 2 Dublin, a band based in Canada, is known for fusing Indian and Irish music, and Bhangraton is a fusion of Bhangra music with reggaeton, which itself is a fusion of hip hop, reggae, and traditional Latin American music. (Source:  

Sitar meets Flamenco, Udo Kamjunke and Wolfgang Gerhard
Live concert from January 2007 at Cologne. Wolfgang Gerhard received the award as best Flamencoartist for Jazz meets Flamenco. Now he creates "Sitar meets Flamenco" with Udo Kamjunke.

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