Beyond The Ragasphere (World Music Network , 2013)
Indian slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya steps away from traditional Indian classical music on his latest album Beyond The Ragasphere. He is joined by three guitarists representing various music traditions. The stellar lineup includes jazz and fusion guitarist John McLaughlin and bluegrass dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas. Classical guitar professor and performer Adam del Monte provides the Flamenco component.
Overall, the album explores world fusion with a mix of Indian classical, traditional bluegrass, flamenco and jazz. It’s hard to point out a highlight in the album because Debashish Bhattacharya always provides high quality musical works. The strongest material, however, is the Indian flavored pieces, the edgy jazz fusion with John McLaughlin and the bluegrass inspired pieces. The flamenco cuts are pretty decent, but I think Debashish Bhattacharya could have benefited from having as guests any of the numerous Flamenco guitar masters from Spain: Paco de Lucia, Gerardo Núñez, Vicente Amigo, Niño Josele and a long etcetera.
In addition to world class guitarists, the album also features American jazz-funk drummer Jeff Sipe; table players Pandit Bickram Ghosh and Pandit Tanmoy Bose; Mainak Nag Chowdhury, aka ‘Bumpy’ on bass. Other collaborators include nylon-string guitarist Nishad Pandey, keyboard player Raja Raj Narayan and flutist Soumya Jyoti. The album also includes the engaging vocals of Debashish’s teenage daughter, Anandi Bhattacharya, and his younger brother Subhasis on percussion. Anandi is a ‘born musician’, says Debashish Bhattacharya.
Debashish Bhattacharya was born in 1963 in Kolkata (Calcutta). He experimented on his first Hawaiian lap steel guitar from the age of three. Today he is still based in Kolkata, tours internationally and has received numerous awards and accolades. His discography includes: O Shakuntala!, Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey, Calcutta Slide Guitar – 3, Mahima, Call of the Desert, Reflection of Love, Hindustani Slide Guitar, Calcutta To California, Sunrise – Delightful meeting of Slide Guitars, and Remember Shakti.
With Beyond The Ragasphere, guitar virtuoso what Debashish Bhattacharya shows his dazzling ability at making world fusion. Hopefully there will more to come in the next years.