RealAudio Duet (25 minutes)
Flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia has gained legendary status, both in the world if Indian classical music and beyond, for his inspirational improvisations and the pure, delicate tone of his playing. As well as numerous solo recordings, he has been involved in memorable collaborations with the likes of Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain on the seminal Making Music (ECM) and with santoor master Shivkumar Sharma with The Call of the Valley (Navras).
Jazz guitar legend John McLaughlin is well know for his pioneering collaborations with Indian musicians. In the 1960's McLaughlin had begun to make a name for himself on the R'n'B and rock circuits. However, he was developing a passion for the music and culture of India and in 1969 he suggested to Miles Davis that tabla and sitar could be integrated into the great electrical maelstrom. He became a disciple of the Indian guru Sri Chinmoy, to whom he paid tribute in the album recorded with Carlos Santana Love Devotion and Surrender.
This marked the beginning of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a great fusion band that led to the original Shakti, featuring the great violinist L. Shankar alongside Zakir Hussain on tabla and T.H. 'Vikku' Vinayakram on ghatam. After three groundbreaking albums, the group disbanded in 1977.
In 1997 the McLaughlin joined forces again with his old friends Zakir Hussain and T.H. Vinayakram and together with the guest artist Hariprasad Chaurasia toured in the UK and produced the album 'Remember SHAKTI' - this became the title for the new touring band, and a new live album The Believer was released in October 2000.
BODY: Concert for Gujarat. Festival Hall
BENEFIT performances are often long on worthiness and short on worthwhile content but the Concert for Gujarat over the weekend managed to raise 70,000 pounds for the earthquake appeal and to present a feast of Indian music. The credit for putting together such a superb line-up at short notice belongs to the Asian Music Circuit(link in IE), which has been touring artists from the sub-continent in Britain since 1991.
The choice of Michael Nyman as an opening act was on the surface an odd one, although there was a reason. The AMC recently commissioned a major composition from him fusing western and Indian classical forms, which will have its premiere in the autumn. There was nothing remotely eastern about any of the four instrumental pieces Nyman performed on piano with his 11-piece string and brass ensemble. But they were full of intriguing textures and made a valuable contribution to the variety of the evening.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is the master of the sarod, the Ravi Shankar of his instrument. Smaller than a sitar, it has 19 strings. Accompanied by his two sons, Amaan Ali and Ayaan Ali Bangash, on similar instruments, they created a 57-string three-man symphony orchestra. Their playing was strong, crisp and full of wit as they traded phrases, almost like an Indian version of Duelling Banjos from the film Deliverance.
Hariprasad Chaurasia is northern India's foremost player of the bansuri, or wooden flute, and accompanied by a small group he gave a delightfully lyrical performance with moments of genuine spiritual intensity.
He was then joined by John McLaughlin, with whom he most recently worked in the guitarist's east-west fusion group, Remember Shakti. McLaughlin's understanding of Indian rhythmic patterns is second to none among western musicians. That said, I found his jazz-tinged runs on electric guitar incongruous, although the standing ovation suggested that few agreed.
The evening ended fittingly with the emotional voice of Praful Dave, the leading singer of traditional Gujarat folk song, who lost his own home in the earthquake. His songs, we learnt, reflected on mankind's resilient spirit in the face of insurmountable odds, and even without understanding a word it was impossible not to be moved.
The Concert for Gujarat will be broadcast tonight (20/02/2001) on Radio 3 at 7.30pm. Donations to the Earthquake Appeal can be sent via