Pandit Sharda Sahai & Vishnu Sahai
Gurukul Lineage of Benares Gharana (Sense World Music, 2004)
Recorded live at the Saptak Festival in January 2004, this CD honors the concept of Gurukul, which “embodies the living and learning relationship between a teacher and a pupil, signifying the complete emotional, intellectual and spiritual surrender of the aspiring disciple (shishya) to the guru.” (According to the liner notes). The Guru in this case is tabla master Pandit Sharda Sahai and the disciple is his son, Vishnu Sahai. The tradition has been passed down since the 18th century, handed down father to son.
Sharda Sahai is the great great grandson of the founder of this tradition, Ram Sahai. Sharda is also a
widely respected performer and guru representing the tradition of Benares tabla tradition.
This recording features 13 solo tabla tracks performed in the 16 beat cycle (teentaal). Ramesh Misra accompanies on the sarangi which is crucial to maintaining the melodic framework. The guru and student
extract various tones and beats from their instrument that would no doubt delight those familiar with the tabla drums.
Technical notes for each track also appear in the liner notes. This CD would be best appreciated by devoted fans of Indian classical music, tabla gurus, students and professional tabla performers. It might be a stretch for those who are just getting to know Indian classical music.
This review also appears on Cranky Crow World Music (Music of India).