On October 19th, Dark Horse Records and Rhino Entertainment will release a limited edition deluxe boxed set titled Ravi Shankar George Harrison Collaborations which honors the sitar master’s 90th birthday.
Collaborations is a 3 CD and 1 DVD uniquely numbered limited edition box set (the CDs come in replica vinyl jackets). All compositions were composed by Ravi Shankar and produced by George Harrison over a period of 20 years.
The DVD is a rare concert performance of the Ravi Shankar’s Music Festival From India recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1974. The albums include the acclaimed Chants Of India (1997), The Ravi Shankar Music Festival From India (studio version 1976) and Shankar Family & Friends (1974). The 56-page book includes a foreword by Philip Glass, a history of George and Ravi “in their own words” and rare photographs from both family archives.
The personal and musical friendship between Ravi Shankar and George Harrison has been known and well documented for decades now. It was a friendship that was powerful enough to make an impact on the large, musical life of the late nineteen sixties and it reverberates, as clearly, even today. – from the Foreword by Philip Glass
In 1973 George Harrison signed Ravi Shankar to his Dark Horse Records label. The first joint recording project between George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, Shankar Family & Friends brought together renown Indian classical musicians such as Ustad Alla Rakha, Lakshmi Shankar, and Shivkumar Sharma alongside Western jazz and rock musicians including George, Ringo Starr, Tom Scott, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner and Billy Preston. One half of the album comprises instrumentals and songs, while the second half is a thematic ballet to a yet un-staged performance.
Ravi Shankar’s Music Festival From India (live from the Royal Albert Hall) was the first artistic event organized and sponsored by George Harrison’s Material World Charitable Foundation; bringing together a 17-piece Indian classical ensemble as well as a solo sitar performance by Ravi Shankar accompanied on tabla by Alla Rakha.
In 1997 George Harrison and Ravi Shankar again collaborated on an album. This time Ravi created music for ancient Sanskrit chants with the challenge of maintaining the authenticity of the ancient verses, along with four original compositions. Released in 1997, Chants Of India are timeless, Vedic verses chanted for the well being of man and mankind.
“The friendship with George started in 1966 and that’s when I met him along with the other three, but George was something very special from the very beginning,” said Ravi Shankar. “Something clicked between us and he was so interested in wanting to know about Indian music.”
“In 1966 through the grace of God my life was blessed and enhanced from the sudden desire to investigate the classical music of India,” said George Harrison. “Although intellectually, I could not comprehend it, the music, (which happened to be Ravi Shankar and the sitar) made more sense to me than anything I had heard in my life. When I read Ravi saying he felt he had only started, I was overwhelmed, humbled and encouraged to try and understand the music and the man much more.”
This is how the interesting, unique and lifelong friendship began between Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. Collaborations, available on Dark Horse Records and distributed worldwide by Rhino Entertainment, is a celebration of these two musical geniuses and how their friendship and deep mutual respect for each other created opportunities to push musical boundaries.
Buy the album: