Tag Archives: Indian music

Chandrika Tandon’s Inspiring Journey

Chandrika Tandon – Shivoham – The Quest (Soul Chants Music, 2017)

Shivoham – The Quest is an impressive production by vocalist, composer and businesswoman Chandrika Tandon. The album is beautifully packaged and designed in a hard cover box that contains three discs and a booklet with song descriptions, photos and credits. Shivoham – The Quest is divided into three movements: Yearning, Searching and Connecting that reflects Chandrika Tandon’s musical and life journey.

 

 

Chandrika Tandon brings together two of the greatest musical traditions in the world: Indian classical music (Hindustani and Carnatic) and western classical music. The Indian influences dominate in some of the tracks, with Indian musical forms, Hindi lead vocals, percussion, bansuri flute, string instruments, mantras and other elements. Western classical appears in the form of classical and early music choirs and orchestras and lead vocals in English.

 

 

There is fusion as well, where Indian and western traditions are elegantly intertwined. Additionally, Chandrika Tandon incorporates other world traditions such as the Soweto Gospel Choir, flamenco and global percussion.

 

 

The list of musicians is extraordinary. In addition to Chandrika Tandon’s impeccable and mesmerizing vocals, Shivoham – The Quest includes the London Voices choir directed by Terry Edwards; Soul Chants Ensemble of New York; Soweto Gospel Choir; The King’s Singers; and soloists from Ajoy Chakrabarty School of Music of Kolkata.

Also featured is the London Metropolitan Orchestra, directed by Andy Brown and percussion ensembles from Kolkata and Mumbai in India.

The lists of solo instrumentalists includes a striking international cast of acclaimed musicians: Kenny Werner on piano; Martin Bejarano on piano; Sally Heath on piano; Romero Lubambo on guitar; Peter Calo on guitar; Pedro da Silva on Portuguese guitar; Jamey Haddad on percussion; Cyro Baptista on percussion; Thomas Kemp on violin; Gil Goldstein on accordion; Anthony Pike on clarinet; Pandit Ronu Majumdar on flute; Sandeep Mishra on sarangi; Pratik Shrivastava on sarod; Shubhayu Sen Majumdar on esraj.

Shivoham – The Quest is a masterfully-crafted production that seamlessly crosses various secular and sacred music traditions.

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Artist Profiles: Najma

Najma

Vocalist Najma Akhtar, better known as Najma, was born in 1964 Chelmsford, England. Najma has Indian ancestry and holds a degree in chemical engineering.

Najma’s singing career began when she unexpectedly won first prize at an Asian song contest in 1984. She soon came to international attention with a track especially recorded for the first WOMAD/Real World compilation record.

The release of her first album Qareeb on Triple Earth Records in 1987 rapidly gave a cult status upon her with its adoption by Azzedine Alaia for her summer collection, a video directed by Jean Baptiste Mondino and inclusion in the soundtrack of Sammy & Rosie Get Laid, a Hanif Quereishi film. Qareeb attracted a lot of attention with its groundbreaking fusion of sounds of the Indian sub-continent and western pop. Najma quickly became an essential figure on the European world music scene.

A second release “Atish” in 1991 reached No. 4 in the Billboard World Music chart. The third album “Pukar” sold thousands of copies in Japan alone and was released on Miles Copeland’s label Mondo Melodia in the USA and South America. An album of popular Indian film songs titled “Forbidden Kiss” was also released in the USA in 1996 on the Shanachie label.

Najma has crossed musical boundaries and worked with artists that others only dream of. She has performed with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and has recorded for their MTV Unplugged and No Quarter albums. She also contributed to Jah Wobble’s “Take Me To God” album (from which the song ‘Raga’ was featured in Robert Altman’s film “Pret a Porter”) and has collaborated with Andy Summers (The Police), Carol Grimes and Martin Allcock (Fairport Convention).

Najma is also in heavy demand as an actress and composer. In 2002 she wrote composed and recorded 13 songs for a full-length feature film titled Bollywood Queen.

On March 11, 2003 Mondo Melodia/Ark 21 Records released Vivid, Najma’s 7th album. Throughout the album’s ten tracks her mesmerizing voice soars over Arabic rhythms, trance beats, Bollywood strings and synthesizers. Najma wrote the lyrics and melodies for Vivid and collaborated with composer Richard Grassby-Lewis. Richard is better known for his work in film and television however his cinematic roots are brought into play on the album bringing the listener through different scenes as each track plays. Searching for a description to their distinctive sound Najma and Richard chose ‘Indian Gothic.’

 

 

Discography:

Qareeb (Triple Earth Records 1987)
Atish (1991)
Pukar (Calling You) (Mondo Melodia 1998)
Forbidden Kiss (Shanachie 1996)
Vivid (Mondo Melodia/Ark 21 2003)
Fariyaad: A plea to the creator (Choice Music, 2008)
Rishte (World Village, 2009)

website: www.najmaakhtar.com

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Artist Profiles: Malkit Singh

Malkit Singh

 

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.”

 

 

Discography:

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)

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Bravado Masala

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.

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Exploring Raga

Various Artists – Musical Explorers – Colours of Raga

Various Artists – Musical Explorers – Colours of Raga (ARC Music EUCD2730, 2017)

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.

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Subhi’s Remarkable Hindi Jazz

Subhi – Shaitaan Dil / Naughty Heart

Subhi – Shaitaan Dil / Naughty Heart (2017)

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.

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Spellbinding Indian Trance Sounds from Moscow

Zaindiveli – Sagar (SKMR-134, 2016)

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.

Buy the digital download version of or the CD from sketismusic.bandcamp.com

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Artist Profiles: Gingger

Gingger

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.

Discography:

Enlightenment, with L. Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram (2003)
Anywhere But Here (2010)

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Mantras Accessing a Place of Mysticism

Sheela Bringi – Shakti Sutra

Sheela Bringi – Shakti Sutra (New Earth Records, 2017)

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.

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