All posts by Madanmohan Rao

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.

Brilliant Profile of Paco de Lucia

Paco de Lucia – Antologia

Paco de Lucia – Antologia (Mercury, 1995)

This is a magnificent profile of Paco de Lucia, one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

The Spanish composer and guitarist was particularly skilled in flamenco, but crossed over into a range of other styles such as classical, jazz and world music.

His vast archive of music combined technical magic, raw energy, tender emotion and superb melody. From bulerias and tanguillos to tangos and rhumbas, this compilation showcases Paco de Lucia’s virtuosity.

If you can’t make it to Andalucia in southern Spain, this album will give you a flavor! We particularly recommend the tracks ‘Danza Ritual Del Fuego,’ ‘Cepa Andaluza’ and ‘Rumba Improvisada.’

More about Paco de Lucia

Share

World Music Introduction to Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth

Jyotsna Srikanth – Fusion Dreams

Jyotsna Srikanth – Fusion Dreams (Times Music, 2013)

This is an interesting world music debut by Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth. An accomplished violinist with a number of album releases and movie soundtrack performances, Jyotsna plays violin in eight different styles on this CD.

The London-based doctor showcases her musical skills with tracks in Irish, Arabic, Indian, African and Western themes.

She is accompanied by Praveen Rao on keyboards, Keith Peters on bass and N.S. Prasad on mandolin. Fans of violin would like this album, though purists may find it hard to pin it down to a single niche.

Buy Fusion Dreams

Share

Symphonies of the Taj

Abhishek Ray – Symphonies of the Taj

Abhishek Ray – Symphonies of the Taj (Music Today, 2011)

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.

Share

Freedom and Leela’s Mantra Fusion

Freedom and Leela – Ru

Freedom and Leela – Ru (Times Music, 2011)

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 meditative.

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 world.

Share

Baba Da’s Great Tradition

Adidam Sacred Music Guild – Baba Da’s Great Tradition

Adidam Sacred Music Guild – Baba Da’s Great Tradition (WorldWide Records, 2007)

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.

Share

The Experimental Side of Sheila Chandra

Sheila Chandra – This Sentence is True

Sheila Chandra – This Sentence is True (EMI/Narada, 2001)

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 sounds.

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.

Share

World Music Inspired by Buddhist Philosophy

Sakya Tashi Ling Buddhist Monks – My Spirit Flies to You

The Buddhist Monks Sakya Tashi Ling – My Spirit Flies to You (Fundacion Prevain, 2006)

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.

Share

Ravi Shankar’s Vision of Peace


Pandit Ravi Shankar – Vision of Peace

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 track, Rokudan.

The second CD is more traditional, with Raaga Jogeshwari and Raaga Hameer. In sum, a fine listen for an afternoon of relaxation.

Share

Sheila Chandra Out on Her Own

Sheila Chandra – Out on my own

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 Lonely.”


Sheila Chandra – Out on my Own, Narada reissue

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.’

Share

Dynamic Salsa and Merengue

Son Real Orchestra – Salsa

Son Real Orchestra – Salsa (ARC Music, 20008)

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!

Share