Purbayan Chatterjee’s album ‘Unbounded’ celebrates diverse genres

Purbayan Chatterjee.  

There are just seven musical notes, but they enchant us with their multiple shades and textures. ‘Unbounded’ (Abaad), the latest album by well-known sitar artiste Purbayan Chatterjee, reiterates it. Released recently by the U.K.-based imprint ‘Sufi Score’, the collaborative project features musicians from India, the U.S. and the U.K. and is a blend of jazz, folk, country, Sufi and Indian classical.

Among the Indian musicians are Zakir Hussain (tabla), U. Rajesh (mandolin), V. Selvaganesh (kanjira), Shankar Mahadevan (vocal) and Gayatri Asokan (vocal), Deepak Pandit (violin) and Purbayan Chatterjee (sitar) while musicians from the West include global artistes Bela Fleck (banjo), Gary Husband (drums and piano), Jordan Rudess (keyboard), Thana Alexa (jazz singer), Pat Metheny (drums), Snarky Puppy (bass), Anat Cohen (clarionet), and composer Antonio Sanchez .

Purbayan’s flair for composing and his spontaneity on the sitar strings come through in the very first track ‘Shanmukhapriya - The Mystic’, a synthesis of the Carnatic alapana, Hindustani sargam, and sloka rendered by Shankar Mahadevan that give way to the subtle playing of cellist Emanuel Keller along with Anna Stromer on the viola, Bengisu Gokce on the violin and the Indonesian guitarist Aleif Hamdan. Together, they give the music a global feel augmented by the post-modern Latin Jazz soundscape.

Purbayan Chatterjee’s album ‘Unbounded’ celebrates diverse genres
One notices this blend throughout the album, be it in ‘Khula Asman’ based on raag Yaman, ‘Intezar’ (The Wait) with a dadra ‘Mujhe chhod ke na jao sanvariya...’, ‘Lalitha’ (The Mother), or the concluding ‘Unbounded (Abaad)’.

The track ‘Sukoon’ (Catharsis) opens with Purbayan’s sitar creating a romantic ambience with raag Pahadi as a prelude to a Rehana Qamar ghazal sung by Gayatri and providing Major scale for the penetrating voice of Thana Alexa, the Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist. Gayatri adds a couple of komal swaras to intensify the pathos of the poetry, interspersed with the jazz choir led by Thana. Zakir’s tabla accompaniment enhances the impact of the musical exchange. Says Gayatri, “It is a dream to collaborate with Thana while it is a blessing to have Zakirji playing for me. The ghazal-jazz fusion is a highly experimental piece but it worked since both genres are improvisational.”

Talking about this project, Purbayan says, “Felt overwhelmed when these amazing artistes agreed to be part of this venture. Of course, the prime motivator was Zakir bhai without whose help I wouldn’t have had artistes like Bela Fleck come on board. The whole thing came together in a matter of few weeks although executing it took a few months. It wasn’t easy during the pandemic with all of us based in different parts of the world and in different time zones.”

The Delhi-based author writes on classical music.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 8:03:57 PM |

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