Artist Profiles: Karnataka College of Percussion

Karnataka College of Percussion

For years, Karnataka College of Percussion (KCP), in Bangalore, India, has been training young musicians who are eager to learn various percussion instruments and vocal of South India. This College has trained a large number of students in India and from abroad since its inception. Many of them have obtained distinction in the State Board of Examinations and become professional musicians. As part of their curriculum, periodical programs are arranged to promote art and culture and encourage talented youngsters.

KCP is world famous for its vibrant percussion ensemble, Tala Tarangini’ (Waves of rhythm) and presentation of the best traditions of percussion and vocal of South India.

Mr. T.A.S. Mani is the director of the ensemble and Mrs. R.A. Ramamani is the lead vocalist of Tala Tarangini. Percussion instruments used are mridangam, double-headed drum; ghatam, clay pot; kanjira, tambourine and morsing, jewish harp and other folk percussion instruments. A special feature of this ensemble is konnakol, a traditional vocal percussion, which may sound at times like scat singing in jazz to western audiences.

Tala Tarangini combines an exuberant rhythmic drive with soaring ecstatic lyricism. Rhythmic cycles unfold in a spellbinding crescendo, releasing the increasingly technical virtuosity of each percussionist. KCP has performed in Asia, Australia, Europe and America, participated in International Percussion Festivals and made many acclaimed recordings. Many musicians world-wide from diverse musical cultures such as rock, jazz, classical and flamenco have performed with Mrs. R.A. Ramamani and ,Tala Tarangini’. KCP thus has been providing a stimulating bridge between East and West.

Both Mr. Mani and Mrs. Ramamani have trained students from India and abroad. They have been invited to perform in music-festivals and as soloists wit world-class musicians and offer workshops in different parts of the world. They arc senior artists of A India Radio and TV and have won many awards an accolades.

Around 1978 Ramamani and T.A.S. Mani, met percussionist Ramesh Shotham in Bangalore and, together with jazz pianist Louis banks from Bombay, they formed the first Indo-Jazz fusion group called ‘Sangam’.

In 1979 Karnataka College of Percussion and German band Embryo played together for the first time in the feature film Embryo’s Reise-Vagabundenkarawane.”

In 1980 a live record was released featuring Embryo, Charlie Mariano & Karnataka College of Percussion, titled Live in Germany (Schneeball Records). In 1981 Karnataka College of Percussion recorded the album Germanistan (Exil Records) together with German band Dissidenten, following a European tour with Charlie Mariano.

The live album Germanistan Live ’83 (Exil Records) was released in 1983. That same year, Sangam’s great success on European tours culminated in a much acclaimed performance at the 1983 Berlin Jazz Festival, with special guest Charlie Mariano. During the same year the groundbreaking ECM production ‘Jyothi’ featuring Mariano and the KCP was also released. Thus a new genre in the music scene came into existence.

After several albums and tours with outstanding European musicians, Karnataka College of Percussion met Mike Herting, who became so enthralled with this form of music, that he traveled to Bangalore, studying and exchanging ideas with Ramamani. The result was a unique project, a first time meeting of South Indian classical musicians with a big band! Arranged by Mike Herting, ‘Sketches of Bangalore’ performed by Karnataka College of Percussion/Mariano and the WDR Big Band became a landmark.

Around 2005 the group streamlined into a quintet featuring Ramamani-vocal, Charlie Mariano-saxophone, Mike Herting-keys, T.A.S. Mani-percussion and Ramesh Shotham-percussion. They now call themselves very simply, KCP 5! A brand new recording by this lineup was produced by Mike Herting in January 2006 in Bangalore. Titled ‘Many Ways’, it is to be released later this year. India Asia

Discography

Reise, with Embryo (Schneeball, 1979)
Sangam, with Charlie Mariano and Louis Banks (Eigelstein, 1981)
Jyothi, with Charlie Mariano (1983)
Life, with Embryo and Charlie Mariano (1980)
Germanistan, with Dissidenten (1982)
Germanistan Tour 83, with Dissidenten (1983)
The Jungle Book with Dissidenten (1984)
Shiva Ganga with Dr. Raghavendra (1995)
Blue Glass with C. Hinze (1997)
River Yanuma (Music of the World, 1999)
Bangalore Wild, with David Rothenberg (2000)
The Great Train Journey, with Dr. Ragavendra and Charlie Mariano (2002)
Om Keshav, with Charlie Mariano (2005)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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