Karaikudi Mani’s Sruthi Laya and the Australian Art Orchestra bedazzled the audience at The Hindu Friday Review Music Fest 2012

Mridangam maestro Guru Karaikudi Mani and his ensemble Sruthi Laya collaborated with Australian Art Orchestra and unleashed waves of music on the final evening of The Hindu Friday Review Music Fest in Coimbatore. The Carnatic musicians welcomed the Western jazz musicians into their fold for a spectacular fusion concert they called Two Oceans.

The Carnatic stalwarts in sparkling white, Guru Karaikudi Mani (mridangam), V. Suresh (ghatam), B.V. Balasai (flute) and U.P Raju (Mandolin), were seated in a row and they were flanked by the fantastic Australians Sandy Evans (reeds) and Scott Tinkler (trumpet) on one side and Adrian Sherriff (trombone) and Adam King (drums) on the other.

Old friends

The musicians have been collaborating since 1996, and the long association was evident in the effortless and seamless way they made music together. Sandy began with a chant of Anbe Shivam and was joined by a chorus of hara hara Shiva, Shiva Shiva hara, anbe Shivam, taalam Shivam, Layam me Shivam.

It was magic right through as the ensemble played Drums across the Ganges, Indian in Paris, Thyagaraja’s

Pancharathna Kriti, Jagadananda karaka… in raga Naatai. They played a version of American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk’s Friday the Thirteenth, and tied it all up with a resounding piece composed by Guru Mani in Raaga Bahudaari. Sa Re Ga Pa Da Sa…Guru Mani sang into the mic, and his mridangam, the ghatam, the drums, flute, mandolins and the trombone, trumpet and saxaphone followed in jubilant harmony.

First time

Coimbatore witnessed the world premiere of the first three pieces of the concert, Adrian Sherriff informed the audience to appreciative applause. The last piece they played was what they had played for the first time they had collaborated in a concert at Delhi in 1996.

The evening was the perfect finale to a four-day musical bonanza of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest 2012.

It was made extra special by the presence of drummer Sivamani in the audience, and the Australian Consul-General David Holly.

Two Oceans was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia International Cultural Council. The performance was a part of the Oz Fest, a four-month long festival that brings Australian culture to 18 Indian cities.