Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Abhishek Basu

Abhishek Basu gave his first professional concert with santur maestro Tarun Bhattacharya. He was but a boy of eight when he first stepped into his guru’s home, where music reigned, in every possible form.

While Bikram Ghosh was away on long tours with Ravi Shankar, Abhishek had the privilege of taking lessons from the former’s father, the great tabla wizard Shankar Ghosh.

For the past years, Abhishek has intensely engaged himself with the study of rhythm. Presently, he is enriching his musical horizons with guidance from mridangam maestro Vidwan S. Sekhar. Though his technical underpinning derive from the Farrukhabad Gharana, Abhishek believes in the individual beauty of every gharana (school).

Abhishek’s individuality rests primarily on his modulations of the baya (the left hand bass drum). What distinguishes him most from his contemporaries is his ability to strike a perfect balance between power, clarity, and rhythmic sophistication. Bikram Ghosh says, “Abhishek is an extremely diligent and hard working tabla player. He is exceptionally talented, as is evident from the standard of performance he has achieved at such a young age. I can confidently say that he has a very bright future in professional tabla playing. He is sure to shine as one of the finest tabla players in our country in the near future.”

Awarded the First Prize at the annual music competition of the West Bengal State music Academy in 1996, Abhishek is also the recipient of the Pandit Jyan Prakash Ghosh Award (2001).

Abhishek has appeared in concert both as a soloist and accompanist in many. He has toured and performed with Tarun Bhattacharya, the celebrated santur virtuoso. Abhishek contributed significantly to Bhattacharya’s album Dance of the Gods, released by Bricklane, UK.

Abhishek released his first World music album Acrostic, with his world fusion band, ISM. Abhishek’s band has performed in the top venues of Kolkata.

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Artist Profiles: Abhisek Lahiri

Abhisek Lahiri
Abhisek Lahiri

At a young age Abhisek Lahiri rose to prominence as a sarod player in India. Abhisek has won the hearts of discerning audiences worldwide with his maturity, depth & perfection with enchanting tonal quality.

Abhisek was initiated in sarod and trained under the tutelage of his eminent father as well as Guru Pt. Alok Lahiri.

Abhisek is a proud recipient of the coveted National Scholarship for outstanding performance in Sarod, from the Ministry of Human Resource & Development and Tourism and Culture, Govt.of. India in 1996-97 and 2003.

Abhisek took part in the World Kinder Festival in Holland and enthralled the audiences as a Wonder Child Sarod Player in 1997. The Dutch Television network telecasts his recitals countrywide, repeatedly even now.

Abhisek won the coveted Anun Lund Rej Award worth Rs. 50,000- from the Norwegian Consulate in 1998 and has been honored by the Rotary International Club with Certificate Of Appreciation for his excellence in sarod in 2000. Abhisek has been honored with the prestigious Telegraph School Award as an outstanding talent.

Abhisek won the President Award in Sarod through All India Radio Music competition in the year 2000 and is at present a Graded regular artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra (Television).

http://sarodabhisek.com

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Artist Profiles: Abhiman Kaushal

Abhiman Kaushal - Photo by Daniel M Neuman
Abhiman Kaushal – Photo by Daniel M Neuman

Indian musician Abhiman Kaushal was initiated in the art of tabla by his father, R.M. Kaushal, who learned under the legendary Ustad Amir Hussain Khan. Abhiman also studied under Ustad Shiekh Dawood and Shri B. Nand Kumar. Abhiman is well known for his proficiency in the art of solo tabla as well as his sensitive accompaniment. His specialty lies in his rich tone and clarity.

Mr.Kaushal has accompanied most of the leading musicians of North Indian classical music including Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Rajeev Taranath and Ustad Rais Khan. Abhiman Kaushal has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and India.

Discography:

Spring
Legacy

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Artist Profiles: Abhijit Banerjee

Abhijit Banerjee
Abhijit Banerjee

Indian musician Abhijit Banerjee started learning tabla at a very young age from Sri Tushar Kanti Bose, later from Sri Manik Pal and finally came under the tutelage of Pandit Gyan Prakash Ghosh. As a child he won many Music competitions of national repute. Besides tabla he had his training in vocal music and in violin.

Abhijit is now a regular performer at all the major music conferences all over India and overseas.Besides accompanying all the major artistes of India, both in North Indian and South Indian traditions, he has presented himself as a solo performer in many music conferences in India and Abroad. He has toured extensively all over the world and also associated himself with Jazz world and performed with some Jazz musicians and groups in New York. Abhijit has conducted many seminars on Indian Classical Music at Universities in U.S.A., Japan, England and Spain.

Abhijit has recorded many CDs with many reputed companies accompanying almost all the major artists in Indian Classical Music today; as well as many well-known Jazz musicians. He has also recorded a tabla solo CD, which is now available from Magnasound and Peshkar CD.

Abhijit has composed music for TV serials and short films of which The Trails– a film on Calcutta- got the National Award and is invited in the film festivals in Amsterdam and Munich.

Abhijit had the privilege of representing India in the World Festival of Music held in Granada , Spain.

In his academic life he is a graduate in English and post graduate in Journalism.

Discography:

The Genius of Pandit Nikhil Banerjee (chhanda dhara)
Tarang (TIM Music)
Amjad Ali Khan
Phases (Times Music)
Teental (Peshkar)
Trur Rhythms of India (NA Classical)
Moonlight Whispers, with Larry Coryell (TIM Music)
Tagorespeare
Ami Chitrangada
Musical Moments of Rhythm (Magnasound)

www.abhijitbanerjee.com

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Artist Profiles: Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim

Some still know him as Dollar Brand, others by his adopted moniker of Abdullah Ibrahim, which he began using in the late 1960s after his conversion to Islam. Either way, the piano styling of this remarkable South African musician have made their indelible mark in both the jazz and world genres for over half a century.

Ibrahim was born Adolphe Johannes Brand in Capetown in 1934, and quickly nicknamed ‘Dollar’. Learning the piano from the age of 7, he honed his early talent in the church. By the late 40?s he was already playing with local jazz big bands.

In the early 1960s alongside trumpeter Hugh Masekela, saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, he was a central figure in South Africa’s own progressive jazz movement which took its lead from the New York-based sounds being articulated at the time by John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk amongst others. His Jazz Epistles group, which included Masekela and Gwangwa, broke new musical ground, with a distinctive African influence added to the jazz improvisation.

He left South Africa in 1962 due to the worsening political situation and, in a now-legendary meeting, his new Dollar Brand Trio was ‘discovered’ by Duke Ellington while playing in Zurich, Switzerland club. Ellington quickly arranged a recording session with Reprise Records, and the Trio began playing the major American and European jazz festivals to enthusiastic acclaim. Brand/Ibrahim’s powerful tonal clusters, repeating African melodies, and creative improvisations were to become his trademarks.

He returned briefly to South Africa in the mid-70?s, but found the conditions so oppressive that he went back into exile in New York. He finally returned to live in Capetown in 1990.

His discography as both a leader and sideman lists well over a hundred album credits, including African Space Program, Ekaya, Tintinyana and Black Lightning. He composed the award-winning soundtrack for the 1988 French/African film Chocolat.

Discography:

Jazz Epistles: Verse I (Gallo, 1960)

African Piano (ECM, 1969)

African Sketchbook (Enja, 1969)

Sangoma (Sackville, 1973)

Fats Duke and the Monk (Sackville, 1973)

African Portraits (Sackville, 1973)

Ancient Africa (Sackville, 1973)

Good News From Africa (Enja, 1973)

The Banyana: Children of Africa (Enja, 1976)

Streams of Consciousness (Piadrum Records, 1977)

Journey (Downtown Sound, 1977)

Autobiography (Planisphere, 1978)

Echoes from Africa (Enja, 1979)

The Pilgrim (Enja, 1979)

Africa: Tears and Laughter (Enja, 1979)

Black Lightning (Rareb, 1980)

Duke’s Memories (Black & Blue, 1981)

Dollar Brand at Montreux (Enja, 1981)

African Dawn (Enja, 1982)

Jazzbohne Berlin ’82 (Repertoire, 1982)

South African Sunshine (Plane, 1982)

Zimbabwe (Enja / Enja Records, 1983)

Dollar Brand (Enja, 1983)

Live at Sweet Basil, Vol. 1 (Ekapa Records, 1983)

Ekaya (Ekapa Records, 1983)

Water from an Ancient Well (Tiptoe, 1985)

South Africa (Enja, 1986)

Mindif (Enja, 1988)

African River (Enja, 1989)

Mantra Mode (Enja, 1991)

Desert Flowers (Enja, 1991)

Anthem for the New Nations (Denon Records, 1991)

Knysna Blue (Tiptoe, 1993)

No Fear, No Die (Tiptoe, 1994)

African Horns (Kaz, 1994)

Piano Solo (Pläne, 1995)

Yarona (Tiptoe, 1995)

South African Ambassador (Jazzfest, 1997)

Cape Town Flowers (Tiptoe, 1997)

The African Suite (Enja, 1999)

Jazz Piano Solos (Pläne, 2000)

Cape Town Revisited (Enja, 2000)

Ekapa Lodumo (EMI Music, 2001)

African Herbs (Rerooted, 2002)

Dukes Memories [Black & Blue] (Black & Blue, 2002)

African Symphony (Enja, 2002)

African Breeze (East Wind, 2002)

African Magic (Enja, 2003)

Recorded Live 1978 (Elephant, 2003)

African Horns (Camden, 2003)

African Suite (Justin Time, 2004)

Re: Brahim: Abdullah Ibrahim Remixed (Enja, 2005)

Arabic Jazz (2007)

Senzo (Sunnyside, 2008)

Bombella (Sunnyside, 2009)

Sotho Blue (Sunnyside, 2011)

Mukashi: Once Upon a Time (Sunnyside, 2013)

The Song Is My Story (Sunnyside, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Abdul Tee-Jay

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Abdul Tee-Jay, an abbreviation for the Fula name Tejan-Jalloh from the Fouta Jalloh region in Guinea where his family originally came from, started playing guitar at the age of nine. His parents objected, so he practiced at a cousin’s home, spurning the western pop styles being adopted by his friends and followed local musical styles from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. Major early influences were Sekou Diabate from Guinea’s legendary Bembeya Jazz, Congo’s Doctor Nico and Freddie Green from Sierra Leone’s 60s stars Super Combo.

In 1974 he moved to West Virginia in the United States to study, playing there with a funk band called Spice. He moved to Great Britain in 1979. Throughout the early and mid 1980s, he played pan-African styles with a variety of bands, including African Connection and African Culture. Eventually, he decided to concentrate on his own music based on Sierra Leonean folklore, incorporating some of the prevailing local contemporary influences like soukous and highlife.; By the late 1980s his band Rokoto was being hailed as the best modern African outfit in the UK and their 1989 debut album Kanka Kuru was a big seller. They followed it with two more albums over the next decade, and Abdul worked with many major African names visiting the UK, often outshining the legends themselves.

Discography:

Kanka Kuru (1994)

Rokoto Make Me Dance Dance (2002)

Palm Wine a Go-Go (Far Side Music, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Abdoulaye Diabate

Abdoulaye Diabate
Abdoulaye Diabate

Abdoulaye Diabate comes from the Segu region of Mali. He was born in 1952, son of Baba Diabate, traditional chief of the Diabate jelis of Segu, and of Assitan Dembele, one of the greatest Bambara singers.

At the age of eight he started singing in villages with his mother, all the while continuing his Koranic studies and attending French school. He eventually received a degree in accounting.

In 1975, at short notice, he replaced the singer of Koule Star of Koutiala, his adopted town (which he has never left), and so began a career that has produced several albums and led to his being named Best Malian Artist of 1994.

Abdoulaye Diabate’s style is an energetic mix of modern and traditional music, where you can find drums and electric guitars, but also traditional instruments such as bala and jembe.

Discography

Massadjourou (1988)

Kassikoun (Syllart 38765-2, 1989)

Namawou (Syllart SYL 83135, 1992)

Tabale (EMI Mali 83178, 1993)

Djiriyo (Stern’s STCD 1066, 1995)

Bende (Project Frikyiwa/PIAS)

Makan (Syllart SYLLAF 96173, 2000)

Samory (Cobalt 09354-2, 2002)

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Artist Profiles: Abdelli

Abdelli
Abdelli

Abdelli is a Kabyl Berber, born on the 2nd of April 1958 at Behalil in the Great Kabyl (Algeria). Author, composer and interpreter, he mixes his native traditional music with modern elements. With an open mind, he does not hesitate in accepting other musical forms however distant they may be from his own.

Abdelli’s first professional performance took place in Dellys (Kabylia). He won several awards in Algeria for amateur singers and eventually moved to Belgium where he met producer Thierry Van Roy, who was so fascinated with Abdelli’s music that he spent two years exploring the roots of the Berbers’ musical tradition at the University of Algiers. In 1995 Van Roy produced the New Moon album and it came out on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. Abdelli’s career took off and he started to perform at major festivals in Europe, including WOMAD.

Abdelli’s lyrics express strong and poetic images of his culture which is threatened from all sides. He expresses himself essentially by symbols which are parts of his traditional culture. He tries to make known the ancient Berber culture which, by its tolerance and openness, is an example to follow in our troubled world.

Abdelli’s music is a reflection of the Kabyl culture open to the world and to its differences. His music is the meeting of the quarter of a tone with the tempered scale. Using traditional Algerian instruments such as the mandola, the bendir and the darbuka, he has collaborated with musicians from South America and the Ukraine, inviting in the usage of the cajón (Peru), the tormento, the quena (Chilean), and the bandura (Ukrainian) resulting in the creation of unique and colorful new rhythms.

Discography

New Moon (1995)
Au-delà de Gibraltar (2000)
Among Brothers (Real World, 2003)
Destiny (2011)

http://www.abdelli.com

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Artist Profiles: Abdelkader Saadoun

Abdelkader Saadoun
Abdelkader Saadoun

Abdelkader Saadoun comes from Khemis Miliana in Algeria, a few miles away from Wahran, the birth place of Rai. He started to play Rai music in his home country, accompanied by an accordion, guitar, kit drum, bass and percussion. An accomplished singer and musician, he led a band, which performed at many venues and festivals.

Rai originates from traditional Algerian music (Chaabi, Kabyl, and Chawia, pop) and also encompasses Jazz, Funk, Rock, Reggae, Fusion, and Blues. Based on strong rhythms, it is a very dynamic and danceable music. It has become the most popular music in North Africa and the Arab world; the music of today?s generation. Its popularity has quickly spread to neighboring countries: Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt and is now very popular in the Gulf States. Since France has a large Magrebian population, Rai music is now part of the French culture.

In 1988 Saadoun moved to the UK and in 1994 he formed a second Rai band in London. Saadoun’s current outfit is made up of nine musicians from different background using traditional instruments such as Mandole, Hajudj & North African percussion combined with European instruments including Brass, Keyboard, Piano and Bass guitar, Viola, Cello, Drums and Electric Guitars. He is a charismatic performer, able to enliven any audience with his infectious rhythms and dynamic stage personality.

Abdelkader has performed at major festivals within the UK and at other international events.

Discography:

Saadia
L’Espagnole
Freedom

Website; http://www.saadoun.com

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Artist Profiles: Abdel Wright

Abdel Wright -  Abdel Wright
Abdel Wright – Abdel Wright

With an incredible true-life story that rivals Jimmy Cliff’s fictional tale of Kingston gangsters in the classic reggae film Harder They Come, Abdel Wright has survived an upbringing in foster homes and five years in a Jamaican prison to create an entire album full of hope and redemption.

Wright’s own story is astonishing: put into government custody at the age of nine months, and moved from one orphanage to another until he ended up at the SOS Children’s Village in Montego Bay. The facility was founded by an Austrian soldier and funded in part by the legendary Johnny Cash, who owned a home nearby. Cash provided an early influence on the young Wright when he performed at a benefit concert at Rose Hall every Christmas for the students.

"All the kids, especially the musical ones, like me, were drawn to him. He played two mouth harps at once, which amazed me," Wright says of Cash.

At 12, Wright was given a guitar as a Christmas gift after a school superintendent spotted him eyeing it in the school’s office. He went on to teach himself the instrument-as well as piano and flute-by stealing in order to afford the instruction books. At the age of 18, he began to write songs.

Kicked out of the Village, Wright began committing crimes to support himself. Caught with a firearm, he was sentenced to eight years in jail. A policeman on the scene saved Wright’s life by refusing to allow the arresting officer to shoot him after discovering the gun. When the same cop ran into Wright years later after seeing him perform on TV, he told Wright it was the right decision: ‘"Now I know why I gave you a chance. You are here for a purpose,’ he told me."

"I was really involved with some bad company back then," says Wright. "Thinking that my gun was the only way to make a living."

In his cell, he wrote several songs, including "Quicksand" and "Ruffest Times," the latter a prayer of thanks for being allowed to survive his ordeal ("Jan will never give you more than you can bear"). It begins with the sound of fingers plucking guitar strings, recalling "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, admittedly one of his favorites.

Wright made the most of his prison stay ("It can be heaven or hell-it’s up to you," he says) by giving music lessons to the other inmates and leading the prison band. He earned enough trust to be allowed to teach and play music every day. While jailed, Wright also learned sign language and taught it to fellow prisoners, giving him a skill to put to use when he was ultimately released after serving a reduced sentence of five years.

Emerging from behind bars, Wright played tirelessly on the island’s club scene, doing countless karaoke shows while also performing his own songs and developing a following. "I was turned down for a recording contract by every leading producer in Jamaica," he says, supplementing his meager earnings by teaching guitar to aspiring musicians for $150 per hour, Jamaican (The equivalent of $2 U.S.).

With just $200 Jamaican in his pocket and practically homeless, Wright had a chance meeting with producer Brian Jobson, which led to Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart agreeing to executive-produce the album. Stewart then turned his buddy Bono on to Wright’s music, and the two invited Wright to perform with them at the 46664 Event, the Nelson Mandela AIDS concert, held in November 2003, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The all-star benefit, which also featured Beyonce, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bob Geldof, the Eurythmics, Johnny Clegg and Queen, was hosted by Nelson Mandela (and named after the number he wore in prison) to raise global awareness in the fight against AIDS. Wright performed an emotional "Loose We Now," which had many of the more than 40,000 fans holding their lighters aloft in tribute. Wright also was brought on-stage by Bono, joining The Edge, Dave Stewart and Youssou N’Dour to add a solo toast to "Long Walk to Freedom," the last song written by the Clash’s Joe Strummer before he died. The song appears on the soundtrack and DVD of the event and a studio version was recorded for an upcoming album project.

"When I first met Bono, I said, ‘Nice to meet you, big man,’" says Wright. "And he answered me, ‘No, you’re the big man. An angel brought you here to me.’ Growing up with all these rock stars, then meeting, playing and singing with them, was unbelievable, a dream come true."

After the Mandela AIDS benefit, Wright returned to Jamaica and entered an Ocho Rios studio to finish recording his debut album with Jobson, which Stewart and Bono then played for Interscope chief Jimmy Lovine, who immediately agreed to release the record.

With an acoustic guitar and a song-based approach, Wright flies in the face of reggae’s current dancehall fascination and hip-hop obsession with sex, drugs and materialism. In politically-charged songs like "Quicksand," "Human Behavior," "Loose We Now" and "Dust Under Carpet," Wright sings about relevant global issues: government oppression, the high cost of health care, the lack of suitable housing and education, poverty and the hypocrisy of the political and religious establishments.

"Quicksand," with its checklist of society’s ills, "Human Behavior," featuring a twangy pedal steel guitar and harp, and the Dylan-styled protest anthem "Loose We Now" are steeped in Jamaica’s traditional political unrest, though the themes are broad enough to provide a global message. "Paul Bogle" tells of an actual 19th century historical martyr who is a Jamaican national hero, hanged by the British for his outspoken criticism of the government. Wright invokes a soaring falsetto and a poignant violin while Babylon bums in "Dust Under Carpet," aiming his ire at hypocritical politicians who are "clean on the outside… dirty on the inside."

"The themes are worldwide, even though it all starts with Jamaican culture," explains Wright. "But it applies everywhere there are police forces using violence to keep society in shackles. There are people with an inability to pay the rent, living in the gutter, every where… even in America, one of the richest countries in the world."

In addition to its political charge, Wright’s debut is also autobiographical. In "Issues," he sings about his troubled upbringing, noting his decision to spend the few dollars he had left at one point on strings for his guitar even though he was practically starving. "My Decision" is a playful tune about "searching the whole, wide world.. .for a good girl."

"I don’t care how much times I have to fly, but you have to maintain the roots," he says about commuting to America for his career. "Because it’s from those roots that the songs come… from my personal suffering, my experiences on the island. I want to keep as many roots as possible."

"People are tired of listening to priests, prime ministers and politicians," he says of the musician’s role in bringing attention to society’s ills. "Music can have a great effect. If we use our credibility and spread our message, it can be accepted by a lot of people. We can be the answer, which is why we need to make sure what we’re inputting to people can make a positive change."

"I want to play my music for people everywhere," he says. "Send me to Greenland with the Eskimos in their igloos, and I’ll play for them. I want to keep spreading the word until I drop dead."

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