Music

For love of fusion music

Two experimental concerts bring together some of the best musicians in the city

The city’s fusion fans are in for a double treat this week, with two fantastic combinations of musicians lined up.

On Wednesday evening, there’s Confluence, featuring drummer Ranjit Barot, Mohan Veena maestro Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, bassist Mohini Dey and keyboardist Gulraj Singh. And on Friday, Classicool, will bring together vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee, tabla exponent Satyajit Talwalkar, drummer Gino Banks, bassist Sheldon D’Silva, keyboardist Stephen Devassy, mridangam player Sridhar Parthasarathy, guitarist Rhythm Shaw and singer Gayatri Asokan.

Barot is excited about Confluence. “Over the years, I have been lucky to play with many Indian classical musicians, both from the Hindustani and Carnatic streams,” he says. “As such, I constantly compose tunes with such interactions in mind.” The ace percussionist has worked with the late mandolin genius U. Srinivas and well-known bassist Etienne Mbappe on the album Chingari. “We had just released the album and Srinivas sadly passed away. Since I had collaborated with Vishwa Mohan a few times, I thought he would be an ideal foil for the Confluence concert.” The other musicians of the evening, Dey and Singh, have been part of Barot’s regular band and he likes “the way they improvise and add colour to the music”.

Besides Barot’s compositions, Wednesday’s show will feature some traditional tunes and maybe piece a written by Bhatt. While Barot hopes to play with this line-up more often, he is also looking forward to touring with music director A.R. Rahman and guitarist John McLaughlin next year. Next month, he will curate the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa along with singer Shubha Mudgal. “It will have flamenco artistes from Spain, tribal drummers from Gujarat and jazz musicians from the U.S. and U.K., besides performances by Taufiq Qureshi on the Djembe and my own drumming,” he says. Barot also plans to release a sequel to his successful album Bada Boom. “I will rearrange some of the older pieces, but use a bigger orchestra of 25-30 musicians. I may write a couple of new tunes too.”

In contrast, Friday’s event will feature a larger line-up. Classicool was conceptualised in 2014 by sitar player Chatterjee with the aim of attracting younger listeners to Indian classical music. Accordingly, the show will present ragas in shorter formats, using drums and bass lines to give them a modern feel. Classicool is not a band according to the sitar player, but a concept where musicians can change. “Many trained classical musicians love to experiment within the Indian repertoire or by fusing our sound with Western harmonic patterns,” says Chatterjee. “This is what we shall do.”

Thus, besides interpretations of Hindustani ragas, the show will also have Carnatic pallavis and a take on jazz keyboardist Chick Corea’s popular piece ‘Spain’. “I am grateful to have Shankar’s support,” says Chatterjee. “He has been at the helm of such experiments, and will bring in his expertise. The other musicians are brilliant, so there will be a lot of energy.”

Both shows will obviously have their highs, offering experimental music enthusiasts two magical experiences.

The author is a freelance music writer.

Confluence will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Tata Theatre, NCPA. Tickets are priced between Rs. 690 and Rs. 920.

Classicool will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday at Nehru Centre. Tickets for Rs. 300-Rs. 1,000.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:40:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/For-love-of-fusion-music/article16440006.ece

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