Seductive trance-like electronic dance music beats, Indian and Middle Eastern melodies and the lead sounds of the sitar come together in Venus Tribe by American multi-instrumentalist Sitar Joe. But there’s more, Sitar Joe also adds jazz, dub and reggae into the tasty mix.
Malkit Singh was born on September 13, 1962 in Hussainpur, Punjab, India. He’s a Punjabi music icon that was catapulted from virtual obscurity in the early 1980s to this his overwhelming status as one of the pioneers of Bhangra music all within a short musical lifetime. He is probably the leading Bhangra act in the world today the idol of all generations and holder of the unofficial title as the King of Bhangra.
His 17th album “Millennium Mixes” represented a colossal union of the musical and lyrical presence that has kept him at the forefront of the Bhangra music scene. His albums Midas Touch, Forever Gold and Upfront were worldwide hits and reached platinum sales.
Malkit Singh has proved himself in the mainstream with his remarkable debut on the Apache Indian single Independent Girl – taking Punjabi music culture and gospel to realms yet unknown. Known as ‘the Golden Voice of Punjab’ Malkit Singh and his ‘Golden Star’ troop have been touring around the world receiving honors from the former Prime Minister of India and recorded and filmed with Apache Indian.
The album Upfront was the renaissance that Bhangra had been waiting for. It has since become the biggest selling Punjabi album in history and spawned the super hit Tootak (Hey Jamalo). The track was awarded the honor of being The Most Outstanding Track of the Bhangra Era in 1993 justifying its longevity.
Over the years he has accumulated a wide range of awards for his songs his live act sales and for individual services to music. One of the most distinguished accolades was presented in 1997 The Recognition of the City of Los Angeles for Services to the Indian Community. “I wanted to bring back the desi style that originates from real Bhangra. My style is desi…it’s always been desi…my audience has always been desi and my fans want that old music style and powerful lyrics.”
Nach Giddhe Vich (HMV, 1986)
I Love Golden Star (T-Series, 1987)
Up Front (HMV, 1988)
Chott Nigary Lawo (HMV, 1988)
Putt Sardara De (Saga, 1988)
Hai Shava (T-Series, 1989)
Fast Forward (T-Series, 1989)
Dhotakada Bai Dhotakada (OSA, 1990)
Gal Sunja (Saga, 1991)
Ragga Muffin Mix (OSA, 1991)
Singho Ho Jo Kathe (Saga, 1992)
Tere Ishq Nachiyav (Saga, 1992)
Chak Deh Dholia (OSA, 1993) Midas Touch (OSA, 1994)
Forever Gold (T-Series, 1995)
Agg Larr Gaayee (OSA, 1997) Millennium Mixes (OSA, 1999)
Nach Nach (OSA, 2000)
Mighty Boliyan (OSA, 2001)
Paaro (OSA, 2002)
Midas Touch 2 (Music Waves, 2003)
21st Chapter (OSA, 2005) Billo Rani (MovieBox, 2009)
Sikh Hon Da Maan (MovieBox/T-Series, 2014)
Midas Touch 3 (MovieBox/Saga Hits, 2017)
James Asher and Mahesh Vinayakram – Bravado Masala (Times Music, 2008)
This album sounds promising and exciting on the cover, which certainly has an element of humor in it as well. The 8 tracks span just under an hour, but many of the pieces come across as rather cheesy and amateurish, which is quite surprising considering the fusion success of musicians like James Asher. Still, we recommend the track Lost Summer.
Another piece which also manages to stand out is Tabletop Dancer, which reveals influences of Middle Eastern sound. We would recommend instead Asher’s other fine fusion album, Feet in the Soil.
This 2-disc set contains a music CD of field recordings made in India in the late 1960s by the late Deben Bhattacharya, featuring various artists playing ragas. The second disc is a DVD with a very interesting 30-minute film titled Ragas, also directed by Deben Bhattacharya.
In the 1960s many western musicians were “Discovering” Indian music. The ‘Raga’ documentary was filmed in 1969, in the early days of documentary filmmaking, and presented by Yehudi Menuhin.
The album booklet contains liner notes by Simon Broughton, biographical information about Deben Bhattacharya, the documentary and ragas and artists feature don the audio disc.
Overall, a fascinating introduction to raga from an Indian perspective.
Chicago-based Indian singer-songwriter Subhi has brought together jazz, pop and Indian music on her new album Shaitaan Dil (Naughty Heart) scheduled for release in September 2017.
Subhi combines contemporary jazz forms, classic swing, adapts Indian vocal percussion to a jazz configuration, incorporates Hindi and Urdu poetry, and stories about romance, departure and intercontinental migration.
In Chicago, Subhi worked with jazz pianist Joaquin Garcia. He rearranged her songs and Subhi really liked the results.
Shaitaan Dil is a charming album at the intersection of jazz and South Asian music.
Zaindiveli is a remarkable project from Russia. The ensemble combines mesmerizing ambient electronics and trip hop with electric and acoustic musical instruments. The musicians are deeply influenced by Indian music and jazz as well.
Highlights include the opening track, “Sagar” that features rich electronic textures. Track 3, “Wheel Prayer (Prayer Wheels Remake”) features Indian tabla, bansuri and Indian-style violin accompanied by electronic textures and beats. The violin performance is spectacular and leaves you wanting more.
Other goodies include the rhythmic “Ouimix” featuring a combination of electronic and acoustic rhythms.
The Indian influences return on “Haldi” with more masterful violin work.
The final track is also a high point. It’s a meditative piece with electroacoustic ambience and Indian-style vocals.
Zaindiveli was developed by two Moscow-based multi-instrumentalists, Gennady Lavrentiev and Kirill Parenchuk in the 1990s. Additional musicians were later added, including Oleg Mariakhin on saxophones, Sergey “Grebstel” Kalachov on bass, Andrey Demidenko on dhrupad vocals and bansuri, Dmitry Losev on keyboardss and electroacoustics and Vladislava Yakupova on bila (Russian flat bells).
Despite the smooth jazz saxophone on a couple of tracks, the overall result is very satisfactory. The electronics and Indian music influences are beautifully composed and masterfully performed.
Gingger, an extraordinary gifted virtuoso violinist, singer and songwriter, toured since 1996 as a member of the pop duo, “Shankar & Gingger”, and as a solo and guest performer in many shows, winning over fans and critics alike. She has also lent her voice, violin and compositions to several album projects.
Born in Los Angeles, Gingger spent her beginnings studying within one of India’s most acclaimed musical families. Her initial training began with her mother, an accomplished singer, who toured the world and won many awards as a classical star. She began teaching Gingger from the time she was a baby.
Between the coaching from her mother and grandfather (violin), and her extensive training in classical Indian violin, opera, western classical music, piano, pop and world music, Gingger has developed a musical style all her own, yet one that encompasses all of these genres and creative experiences.
Enlightenment, with L. Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram (2003)
Anywhere But Here (2010)
Shakti Sutra is the new album by the Indian-American multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sheela Bringi. While her previous album, Incantations, attracted the attention of the world music community with its charming combination of Indian mantras and kirtan with jazz and global music elements, Shakti Sutra features arrangements that make it attractive to the yoga and kirtan market.
What’s unique about Sheela Bringi’s usic is the use of the 36-string harp, a western instrument rarely used in Indian classical music. Bringi adds Indian bansuri (bamboo flute) and harmonium, along with electronic beats and soundscapes, creating a mesmerizing mix.
Rakkatak is a Canadian duo led by tabla master Anita Katakkar and bassist Oriana Barbato. Their album Small Pieces came out this week. It’s a remarkable mix of percussive Indian classical music and western musical forms, including rock and jazz-rock fusion.
Small Pieces contains original pieces by Rakkatak along with some surprising versions of well-known songs. The most famous is “Norwegian Wood,” the Beatles’ song composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The other unexpected song is Rush’s “YYZ.” Rush is one of Canada’s most famous rock bands and Anita Katakkar found connections in its rhythmic structure and odd time signatures.
In addition to the familiar tabla, Anita Katakkar adds other percussion instruments to her arsenal such as the western glockenspiel, creating an unpredictable partnership between the tabla and the bell sound of the glockenspiel.
On Small pieces Rakkatak is joined by sitar player Rex Van der Spuy as well as several other guests on Indian-style vocals and other instruments.
The last track on the album, “Riffing On 9,” takes Rakkatak in yet another direction, This timer it’s an example of the work Anita Katakkar did in the past, mixing Indian percussion with electronics, inspired by the Asian Underground movement.
The lineup on Small Pieces includes Anita Katakkar on tabla, cajón, glockenspiel and harmonium; Oriana Barbato on bass, shaker and cabasa; Rex Van der Spuy on sitar; Sina Bathaie on santur; Randolf Jiménez on drums; Samidha Joglekar on vocals; Joanna De Souza on manjira; Jessica Deutsche on violin; Steve Oda on sarod; Philippe Tasci on guitar; Reza Moghaddas on keyboard; and Joanna Mack on sitar.
Born in London in 1964, producer, keyboardist, guitarist and DJ Nitin Sawhney is one of England’s most creative producer/musicians. Sawhney has become a latter-day Renaissance man in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theater.
He has remixed for Paul McCartney and Sting, written for Sinead O’Connor, and produced part of an album from Algerian rai star Cheb Mami. His own recordings are remarkable Anglo-Indian fusion creations.
Sawhney’s success has been unusual. After studying law at Liverpool University he joined his flatmate Sanjeev Bhaskar in creating a comedy double act, The Secret Asians, that spoofed British racial attitudes and undermined Indian stereotypes. It led to a BBC radio contract, and ultimately to the hit BBC TV comedy series, Goodness, Gracious Me.
Linking up with an old school friend, English acid-jazz keyboardist James Taylor, Sawhney joined his band, then quickly created his own group, The Jazztones. A collaboration with fellow Indian tabla/producer Talvin Singh, as The Tihai Trio, inevitably saw Sawhney linked with England’s emerging “Asian Underground” movement, a term Sawhney himself rejects.
On his album Prophesy, Sawhney utilizes the guest talents of world music icons Natacha Atlas, Trilok Gurtu, Cheb Mami and Mandawuy Yunupingu, amongst others, as well as a voice snippets from a Chicago cab driver, bluesman Terry Callier and Nelson Mandela. Carefully crafting the mix, Sawhney creates a smoothly seductive combination of pop, jazz, R&B, flamenco and sound collage.