Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan – Times of Maharajas (ARC Music
There are some CDs that are remarkable easy to review. These are the ones filled with a musical joy and a mastery that goes beyond just mere proficiency. Times of Maharajas by the Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan out on the ARC Music label is just one of those recordings.
With the 2005 Dhoad Gypsies: From Rajasthan” under their belt, more than a 1000 concerts in more 100 countries in the last 18 years, performances for the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former President of France Francois Holland and gig for The Rolling Stones’s Mick Jagger’s birthday, Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan are again taking us into the rich and colorful musical traditions of the north west Indian state of Rajasthan on Times of Maharajas.
Overflowing with harmonium, sarangi, kartal, dholak, tabla and some truly extraordinary vocals, Times of Maharajas is extravagantly lush and infectiously joyful. Seriously, who wouldn’t enjoy a recording that has a song entitled “Romantic Peacock?” Musical director and tabla player Rahis Bharti intent on keeping alive the musical and dance traditions of Rajasthan lends his own tabla to Times of Maharajas along with Sanjay Khan, vocalist and harmonium player, sarangi players Ustad Sabri Khan and Ustad Lyikat Ali Khan, singer and kartal player Bilal Khan, dholak player Yakub Khan, singer Moinuddin Khan and tabla players Teepu Khan and Amrat Hussain.
Times of Maharajas is a delight from the opening strains of “Sona ra button banna (The Prince Is Born)” as the courtly life of the maharajas takes on life through each track.
Carefully crafted and intricately worked, Times of the Maharajas expresses a pure musical joyfulness by way of the syncopated vocals against harmonium on the opening before taking shape into “Breathing Under the Water,” and on the happy groove conjured up on “Janwariyo (Romantic Peacock),” or by way of the sweet saranji lines on “Lullaby.”
And the delights just keep coming with “Dhanra Saheba ji (Dream Wedding),” “Nagar bele (Never Let You Go)” and simply fabulous “Royal Dance of Rajasthan Ghoomar.”
Listeners get a real treat by way of a four minute thirty-two second tabla solo with a deliciously threaded harmonium for company on “Tabla Solo” before Times of Maharajas closes with the exotics of “Begha ghara ayo (Maharani Longing for Maharaja).”
Times of Maharajas is a magically rich listen into the times of the maharajas.