Jayanth, the flutist who can surprise

 Flautist J.A. Jayant performs at The Music Academy

Flautist J.A. Jayant performs at The Music Academy

As peer competitiveness scents the Margazhi air, Carnatic classical vocalists and instrumentalists are increasingly reinventing themselves within the rich legacies of their respective banis. The once-shiny chrome veneer of ‘fusion’ experiments has begun to dull, with mainstream artistes rediscovering a soul-connect in their earliest memories of sage ‘I told you so all along’ guru-speak and advice springing from their gurus’ lived experience. One of the most heartening upshots is the resurgence of interest in the projection of the kriti as the bedrock of the kutcheri paddhati.

While the role of alapana, niraval, kalpanaswara and the RTP as communicators of individual manodharma remains as strong as ever, a disturbing trend over the past decade, of some artistes viewing the kriti as merely an essential prop for manodharma elements, is thankfully on the wane. Patanthara is once again being viewed as an affirmation of identity and loyalty — to guru and to bani; to the point that, not to air a distinctive patanthara is to make a musical statement devoid of conviction.

Judicious blend

A case in point was the flute recital of J.A. Jayanth. Buoyed up by two assets, namely, experience and enthusiasm, the young artiste waxed eloquent in a Kharaharapriya alapana, his main piece. A judicious blend of solid pidis, jarus and quicksilver flights centred at the dhaivata, tara sthayi shadja and rishabha, the well-structured essay was predominantly and appreciably cast in the vocal mould. Palpable excitement tinged the shirred brigas in the winding-up segment. Not that Jayanth forgot to dwell on the meditative bit. He just saved it for last.

The Tyagaraja masterpiece ‘Chakkani Raja’ revelled in strength of patanthara, making for an impactful rendition. Swarakalpana was an extended laya fest with alternating nadais woven into the chatusra grid.

Presumably, the artiste was so immersed in his Kharaharapriya that he overshot its designated time frame. And so, rasikas had to be content with a two-line sketch of Mohanam raga in the RTP. The melody-rich ragamalika tanam segued into a pallavi in the Panchamukhi mode in which the chatusra triputa tala took on the khanda nadai (5 units) in the first, fifth and seventh beats, with all the other beats being in chatusra nadai (4 units). As you waited to exhale, Jayanth successfully negotiated the attendant technical intricacies and moved on to what comes best to him – coaxing melody from bamboo, as evidenced in ‘Baro Krishnayya’ and ‘Maithreem Bhajatha.’

In the initial line-up, ‘Sri Varalakshmi’ (Sri, Muthuswami Dikshitar) and ‘Deva Deva Jagadiswara’ (Purvikalyani, Swati Tirunal) established atmosphere. The thread of vitality powering the Purvikalyani piece set the tone of the recital. Nimble fingers flying swiftly, Jayanth eagerly dashed forward to meet raga prayogas, kriti sangathis and kalpanaswara kanakkus halfway with a passion that yanked the unsuspecting listener into a kaleidoscopic vortex. The kanakku permutations of the vibrant swara kuraippu landing on the tara sthayi shadja culminated in an adrenaline rush. Neither in negotiating high-risk speed passages nor in their complexities during this turbo-charged interlude, was there even a smidgeon of hesitation. With hard work paying rich dividends, the artiste made it seem like child’s play. Brisk and appealing, the filler kriti ‘Raka Shashivadana’ (Tyagaraja, Takka) scored brownie points before the main piece.

Violinist Tirumarugal Dineshwas a valuable collaborator. His strengths included a firm touch on the strings, rich tonality and the ability to define raga swaroopa with just a clutch of well-chosen sancharas. Burra Sriram’s mridangam play alternated between incredibly soothing and scintillating. His tani avartanam with Andanallur R. Raganathan (ghatam) threw up vivid sollu groupings.

Armed with an irrepressible energy and infectious enthusiasm that he transmitted to the rasikas, Jayanth approached every phrase with the wonder of a child on the threshold of discovery. It was this element that set him apart as an artiste who can surprise and be surprised.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 1:02:35 pm |