Madanmohan Rao is an author and media consultant from Bangalore, and global correspondent for world music and jazz for World Music Central and Jazzuality. He has written over 15 books on media, management and culture, and is research director for YourStory Media. Madan was formerly World Music Editor at Rave magazine and RJ at WorldSpace, and can be followed on Twitter at @MadanRao.
This album is intended to evoke some of the
grandeur and romantic aura of the Taj Mahal, widely regarded as the
“Eternal symbol of Love.” The music is symphonic, and blends Indian
sounds along with Arabic and other world influences.
Instruments like sarangi, flute and sitar
dominate the sound. The 8 tracks stretch to about 50 minutes, and our picks
include the two pieces Taj Bazaar and Streets of Agra.
This CD, composed by Abhishek Ray, is one
of twelve albums in the Amazing India Series, targeted at the tourist market.
This is an album for the more spiritually
inclined. The 9 tracks are renditions of sacred Hindu mantras, blended with an
acoustic fusion of flute, piano and guitar. Not as electric or percussion-heavy
as other fusion artists like Prem Joshua, this CD is decidedly more mellow and
Our pick is the piece Guru. This album is a
good listen early in the morning, particularly for foreign listeners not well
versed with Indian devotional music. The artistes named Freedom and Leela have
presented their fusion works at performances in a number of countries around
The acoustic music on this CD was
spontaneously improvised by musicians from the Adidam Sacred Music Guild in the
presence of “The Avataric Great Sage,” Adi Da Samraj, during his visit to the
United States in 2005. The musicians’ backgrounds include Indian classical,
Western classical and jazz.
The 10 tracks have no specific names other than Improvisation. The ones which stand out include Improvisation No. 3 with its fine blend of sarod, piano and flute, and Improvisation No. 10 woven around a bhajan.
Sheila Chandra, the Anglo-Indian singer who released a number of synth-pop albums in the 1980s, is in a more experimental mood in this album. Her earlier releases include ABoneCroneDrone.
This album is rather intriguingly named,
and our picks on this album include the three tracks briefly titled This,
Sentence and Is! The sound is ambient, but less sensual and more fragmented.
Her vocals are mixed with percussion, piano riffs, guitar riffs and crackling
The album may come across a bit jarring or
even dissonant to some listeners, especially those used to more rhythmic
arrangements, and the 7 tracks barely stretch beyond 45 minutes.
This is an ambitious world music album
inspired by the Buddhist philosophy and musical chanting of Sakya Tashi Ling, a
monastery belonging to one of four Buddhist schools from Tibet, the Sakyapa
tradition. They later set up the first Buddhist monastery in Spain.
The orientation is mostly toward Western
listeners, with the Buddhist chanting adding an exotic ‘Eastern’ appeal over
the 14 smooth jazz and lounge tracks.
Our picks include the pleasant piece Emotions
and the soaring I Wanna Fly. The music is generally a mix of pop and New Age
music, architected by Sergio Medrano and Miguel González.
Pandit Ravi Shankar – Vision of Peace (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal, 2000)
This double CD showcases some of Pandit
Ravi Shankar’s international prowess. The first CD has Japanese-Indian
collaborative tracks featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar on sitar and Ustad Alla
Rakha on tabla, accompanied by Japanese musicians Susumu Miyashita and Hozan
Yamamoto on flute and string instruments. Our pick on this CD is the energetic
The second CD is more traditional, with
Raaga Jogeshwari and Raaga Hameer. In sum, a fine listen for an afternoon of
Sheila Chandra – Out on my own (Indipop, 1984, reissued by Narada//EMI in 2000)
This is a slender album by today’s standards, with 10 tracks just stretching over 40 minutes. But it is an important milestone in the musical path of Sheila Chandra, leading UK-based Indian-origin fusion artist from the 1980s.
As the liner notes explain, this was Sheila
Chandra’s declaration of independence from pressure from her first label, after
scoring a U.K. hit with the group Monsoon and the song, “Ever So
Tablas, keyboards, guitar and sitars provide the backing for her strong experimental vocals. Our picks include the title track and the ambient ‘Prema;’ also check out the dreamy ‘From a Whisper.’
The London-based Colombian band Son Real presents an excellent CD of vibrant, dynamic and very danceable salsa and merengue. The band has a funky rhythm section (percussion, piano, bass), a tight and bright brass section, and three female crooners who fill out the sound on the 13 tracks.
This is a must-have album for you Latin fans out there; our picks include the dancefloor tracks Aurorita, Corazon gitano and Ay papa ay mama. A perfect choice for your Friday and Saturday parties!
This is a superb Indo-Swedish fusion band,
not quite in the league of Shakti, but with a more diverse range of sounds.
Calling itself a “fusion of Nordic ice with
Indian spice,” there’s a good mix of funky percussion, scatting vocals, slick
guitar and soaring sax.
The two-disc set includes a CD and DVD. The
Swedish lineup features Santiago Jimenez (violin), Max Åhman (guitar),
Sebastian Printz-Werner (percussion) and Christian Paulin (bass). They are well
matched by Fazal Qureshi (tabla) and Shankar Mahadevan (vocals).
The 15 tracks are culled from 5 previous albums. Each track is terrific, you must get this album!
Jai Uttal is a veteran musician and
singer-songwriter from New York, and this album reflects his diverse background
in blues, R&B, and later on Baul and Indian classical (studying sarod under
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan).
The instrumentation is superb, and well showcased on the 12 tracks of this 10-year retrospective. Our picks include the dreamy piece Corner, the finger-snapping Footprints, reggae-influenced Hara Shiva Shankara, rock-driven Malkouns, jazzy devotional piece Govinda, and Petition to Ram. Check out this prolific artist’s other albums like Dial M for Mantra, Shiva Station, Pranayama, Music for Yoga, Yoga Chant and Mondo Rama.
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion