Tag Archives: Indian music

Artist Profiles: Shruti Sadolikar

Shruti Sadolikar

Born in Kurundawad, Maharashtra, Shruti Sadolikar is one of the finest living vocalists in the Hindustani (North Indian) classical tradition. Her name means ‘knowledge transmitted through sound.’

Her guru and mentor was her father, the late Pandit Wamanrao Sadolikar, a well-known exponent of Hindustani classical music. Through meticulous training, Shruti has accumulated a musical knowledge, which she has nourished and expanded by adding her own skill and versatility.

In classical Indian music, the voice is the focal point of the musicthe singer acting as a channel intensifying a shared emotion and bringing the audience into a more intimate relationship with God. Shruti has performed all over the world and has won many awards for her extraordinary talent. She has also formed a foundation in the memory of her father to promote and propagate music, arts and education.


In The Jaipur-Atrauli Tradition ‎(Rhythm House, 1984)
Traditional Thumris, Vol. 2 (1986)
Bhakti Varsha – Bhajans (1989)
Rare And Complex “Ragas” The Imaginative ‎(Magnasound, 1990)
Afternoon Ragas Vol 3 (Music Today, 1990)
Bhaktimala – Shiva Vol 1 ‎(Music Today, 1991)
Raga Mian-ki-Todi, Raga Bibhas, Raga Bhairavi ‎(Nimbus Records, 1992)
Evening Ragas Volume One ‎(Music Today, 1992)
Bhaktimala Bhajans (1994)
The Raga Guide A Survey Of 74 Hindustani Ragas ‎(Nimbus Records, 1999)
Bhaktimala – Namastotram, Vol. 2 (Music Today, 2005)
Women Through The Ages Series (Navras, 2006)
Soz-E-Dil (Sony Music india, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Shweta Jhaveri

Shweta Jhaveri

Shweta Jhaveri is one of the most celebrated singers of her generation performing North Indian classical vocal music. Her specialty is the Khayal, the most elegant and technically demanding style of Indian classical music. It is through this unique song form that her innovative artistry and remarkable vocal technique have made her an enduring favorite among audiences in India and abroad.

Born and raised in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), India, Shweta was the first female vocalist to represent the state of Gujarat on an international level in the field of vocal classical Indian music. At the age of 6, she began training under the guidance of the late Pandit Vilasrao Khandekar and for eight years performed and studied with the world renowned vocalist, Pandit Jasraj. She holds a bachelor‘s degree in Literature and a master‘s in Music Composition. In 1985, at the age of nineteen, Shweta made her debut outside of India traveling to Great Britain and the United States, where she now performs annually. Shweta has also developed a strong musical following in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Shweta Jhaveri is the first Indian classical vocalist to publicly perform with westerners and musicians outside of the Indian classical tradition. The music in Anahita is composed in traditional North Indian rags in the form of Drut Khayals, one of the most popular North Indian classical vocal forms. The accompaniment of guitar, bass, violin, and drums is innovative and arresting, lending a modern touch to these traditional musical expressions.

In May 1993, Kavi Alexander, owner of Waterlily Acoustics formed an ensemble called The Court Musicians. During a two day recording session in Santa Bárbara (California), American and Classical Indian musicians collaborated and performed a collection of new works called, At The Court Of The Chera King.

The artists included: Shweta Jhaveri on vocals, Jonathan Kessler on tar, Abdullah Azam on sarod, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Tim Mullins on dobro, Roger Lewbow on cello, Joe Venegoni on dulcimer and Carl Weingarten on dobro & classical guitar.

Shweta Jhaveri is a guest instructor at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music (AACM).

Shweta Jhaveri is the founder of a music publishing company called Cosmic Khayals (1998) and a recording label ’21st Century Cosmos’ (2003). Shweta Jhaveri has performed extensively in India (frequently at prestigious festivals like Saptak-Ahmedabad, Sankat Mochan-Varanasi, Pandit Motiram Samaroh-Hyderabad, NCPA-Mumbai, Nationwide SpicMacay festival tours,Shankarlal fest.-NewDelhi and more), USA ,UK, Canada, Europe, Argentina, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Middle East, Mauritious, Singapore.

Besides many national music prizes and trophies, Shweta has been the recipient of – ‘Gaan Kala Bharati’-Ahmedabad at age 14, The Netragaonkar award-Pune 1991, The prestigious Pandit Jasraj award – Pune 1994, The Indo-American Chamber’s award-California 2003, The ASCAPlus awards for her world music English lyrics and Indian classical vocal CD Avishkar, in 2005.

After the released titles Avishkar & Khayal-Saga, Cosmic Khayals/21st Century Cosmos’ next production is the pioneer world vocal music CD release, featuring Shweta’s World music lyrics based on Indian classical ragas.


Anahita (Intuition, 2000)
In Various Moods (Biswas Records, 2000)
Hindustani Classical (Biswas Records, 2001)
Avishkar (21st Century Cosmos, 2005)
Khayal-Saga (21st Century Cosmos, 2005)
Music of Teens & 20s (21st Century Cosmos, 2007)
Huge (21st Century Cosmos, 2007)
Awakening (Audiorec Classics, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Ritesh Das

Ritesh Das
Born in Calcutta, India, Ritesh comes from a family of dancers. His parents directed one of India’s leading dance and music facilities and in this environment Ritesh had the opportunity to observe many dance and music gurus. Ritesh began his traditional tabla training with Shankar Ghosh, one of the veterans of tabla.

Ritesh arrived to the U.S. in the late 1970s and continued his studies with Zakir Hussain. In the early eighties he became a student of Swapan Chaudhuri, a legendary figure in tabla, at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.

He has been accompanying dance, music and vocal performances from an early age. In the Indian tradition he has worked with Aashish Khan, Krishna Bhat, Aruna Narayan-Kalle, Sabri Khan, Gauri Guha, G.S. Sachdev, Pandit Vyas, Chitresh Das and Joannas Das.

Ritesh’s foremost interest, indeed passion, is the fusion of the North Indian classical rhythms with culturally diverse musical expressions. From 1979-1985, he was the principal percussionist for the Aman Folk Ensemble, an international folk dance company based in Los Angeles, California. Since his arrival in Canada his many credits include performances and recordings with Loreena McKennitt, Jane Siberry, The Tea Party, George Koller, Sonny Greenwich, Don Thompson and Donald Quan.

In 1991 Ritesh founded the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, the first musical group of its kind in Canada. He is also the founding member and artistic co-director of M-DO, a Canadian center in Toronto for cross-cultural music and dance activities. As a composer, he oversees all the Ensemble’s music and has also composed full scores for Firedance, a collective with Joanna Das and Esmeralda Enrique.

Ritesh began teaching tabla when he moved to Canada in 1987. He teaches privately from a studio in downtown Toronto and in the Toronto Metropolitan school system as a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council “Artists in Education” grants, and in programs offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music and the National Ballet School.


Toronto Tabla Ensemble (1996)
Second Palla (1998)
Firedance (2000)
Weaving (2002)
Alankar (2008)


Artist Profiles: Ramesh Shotham

Ramesh Shotham

Ramesh Shotham was born in Madras, South India. He began his career as a drummer in a rock band that performed all over the Indian subcontinent, co-leading a group called Human Bondage. During the mid-seventies, he returned to Madras to study the tavil, a traditional Temple music drum,- played throughout South India and Sri Lanka. Later, he studied the other classical percussion instruments, like ghatam, mridangam, kanjira and morsing at the Karnataka College of Percussion under Professor TA.S. Mani.

In 1980 Shotham arrived to Europe with the Indo-Jazz Fusion- group Sangam to participate in various European festivals. Since then Shotham works and lives in Europe and is recognized as one of the most successful percussionists in Europe.

He has worked not only with leading European and American Jazz and Rock musicians, but also with artists from Africa, Australia, China, Korea and several Arabic countries.

Shotham has recorded over 120 LPs and CDs and has worked for all the leading TV and Radio stations in Germany and Europe. In 1984 he was invited as artist-in-residence at the Iwalewa Haus, University of Bayreuth.

In 1986 he was guest teacher at the Conservatory in Rotterdam. He has also conducted workshops and seminars in various cities. Ramesh Shotham has performed at various international festivals.

Shotham’s Work with musicians such as Carla Bley, Chris Hinze, Steve Coleman, Steve Swallow, Jonas Hellborg, Charlie Mariano and a host of others is well documented. He also founded his own bands like Bhavani and Madras Special. These concepts were used to feature Shotham’s own compositions.

Shotham toured with Sigi Schwab’s Percussion Project regularly. He was invited during the 1997 Music Triennale in Cologne to perform with the Carla Bley Big Band. Early 1998 involved work with Steve Coleman in India. Shotham recently appeared in Heartbeat of the Continents, a film by Manfred Waffender featuring different styles of drumming, produced by arte and the ZDF.

Along with Rabih Abou-Kahlil and Zoltan Lantos, he recorded a documentary film for Euroarts to demonstrate the influences of World music on Jazz. Recent activities included a trip to Cuba to play at the Jazzfestival with Steve Coleman, a summer tour with Carla Bley’s Escalator over the hill Project and an invitation to a World Music festival in Tunisia with the well known Oud player Mohammed Zinelabidin.

Ramesh Shotham was commissioned by the WDR to travel to India with his group Madras Special in early 1999 to perform and record new music. The musical concept was based on a quartet format with very special guest musicians, with whom Ramesh Shotham shares a creative friendship since many years.

Zoltan Lantos, the Hungarian violinist who spent several years in India plays a crucial role in Madras Special. His virtuosity and warm sounds coupled with his knowledge of Indian ragas is just right for this music. Sandhya Sanjana, the Indian singer, lives in Amsterdam and easily bridges pop and Indian classical music.


Open Hand (Keytone, 1993)
Madras Special (Permission Music, 2002)
Urban Folklore (Double Moon, 2006)


Artist Profiles: RajDhani Quartet

RajDhani Quartet

The RajDhani Quartet combined the improvisational and mystical nature of Hindustani Classical Music with the rhythms of Carnatic Music.

Jay Kishor, who performs on the sitar and surbahar, is a disciple of the legendary performer on the surbahar, Annapurna Devi. He also studied with Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra, and Dr. Raj Bhan Singh Thakursaheb. Jay has collaborated with guitarists Stanley Jordan and the late Michael Hedges, and has also founded Touching Grace, a sitar-based world music ensemble that strives to combine the ancient and spiritual qualities of Indian classical music with the structure of Western classical, the improvisation and complex rhythm of jazz, the raw emotion of the blues, and the energy and verve of rock. He released his second CD, Amber, an exploration of the rare night melody, Raga Malgunji.

Subhash Karmarkar is the disciple of the celebrated late Padamshri Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa. Subhash has played extensively with vocal, instrumental and Kathak performers in India, West Germany, Canada, the United States and South America. Subhash has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Gandhi Memorial Center, the Smithsonian, the National Press Club, the Noho Art Gallery in New York, and the Artscape and Spoleto festivals. He has also appeared on Good Morning America. He has three CD’s featuring sitar, violin and flute to his credit, and conducts workshops in his spare time.

Subhash Vinjamuri learned Carnatic music on violin from his father Sri Parthasarathi Iyengar, and later studied with Sri Madhala Brahmanamdam Naidu, and with his uncle, Sangeetakalanidhi Dr. Varadaraja Iyengar. Subhash started giving concerts from the age of five. He has accompanied several front-rank musicians from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. He has given several solo concerts in India, the U.S., and Canada. He is an electronics engineer and works for a defense contracting company.

Dr. P. K. Swaminathan had his initial training and further guidance from many renowned teachers in the Tanjore style. Since 1999, he has been studying mridangam with Padmabhushan Sangeetha Kalanidhi Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman. He has accompanied such renowned Carnatic musicians as Padmabhushan Trichur V. Ramachandran, Padmabhushan B. Rajam Iyer, Prof T. R. Subramanian, T. K. Govinda Rao, Neyveli R. Santhanagopalan, Papanasam Ashok Ramani, Smt Sugandha Kalamegam, and Smt. Charumathi Ramachandran. He has provided accompaniment to numerous dance programs as well, in the Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi and Mohini Attam styles. He received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2002. He has established a nonprofit organization to promote mridangam and the unique Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman style. Dr. Swaminathan is a Senior Physicist at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.


The Gandhi Memorial Concert (Magnatune, 2004)


Multifaceted Indian Musician Babu Kishan Releases 32 Albums on GooglePlay

GooglePlay has just released 32 albums from acclaimed award-winning music composer of Baul, Bollywood, folk, Indian Classical and world music Babu Kishan, also known as Krishnendu Das.

The recordings include 50 years’ worth of music composed and now re-released including world music, folk, Bengali, Baul, Indian spiritual kirtan, bhajans to top Bollywood acts, including Kumar Shanu, Udit Narayan, Anuradha Paudwal, Kavita Krishnamurty, Shaan, Sadhna Sargam, Poornima and many more.

Babu Kishan is a multi-instrumentalist, who plays 15 instruments, has produced 60 albums, composed 150 musical scores for Indian Cinema, and has released more than a thousand albums working for India’s top music companies including manager A&R/ Consultant at India’s popular music & film companies like CBS, Tips music, Gramophone Company, Time, ABCL.

He is the eldest son of the legendary Purna Das Baul who introduced Baul to India and the world more than 70 years ago. Babu been preserving his mystical tradition of Baul from Bengal for 45 years. Others follow him and his lineage, they do not follow anybody. He recorded and composed the music for most of his father’s Baul music and has performed since the early 1970s traveling around the world with his father.

Raised by his grandfather, the legendary Nabani Das Khyapa Baul, who was Rabindranath Tagore’s Baul Guru, what the Bauls are singing today is the music of his renowned family.

Born an oral Sanskritist and musician, he speaks many languages and has composed music in 12 languages, traveling to more than 100 countries and collaborating with Bob Dylan and The Band whom he toured the United States of America 40 concerts in the mid 1980’s. He has jammed with The Rolling Stones, Third World, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, George Harrison of the Beatles and many more. He has toured with Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, Sultan Khan, and Zakir Hussain.

Babu Kishan is a prolific poet and has written thousands of songs and composed music for most of India’s top legends. The 32 albums released on GooglePlay are focus on some of his compositions.
Babu Kishan’s new book on his world of music be released later this year, Baul to Bollywood to the World, historical Baul, who made a Greatest platform and preserved so can be much easier for new Bauls and the world.

He has a master in Indian Music from Calcutta University and has been a Indian Cultural Ambassador and world music pioneer since the 1970s. Babu Kishan was awarded the youngest Music Composer in Bengal in the 1970s at just 11 years of age. Bollywood lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

More at www.BabuKishan.org


Artist Profiles: Purna Das Baul

Purna Das Baul

Purna Das Baul, whose real name is Baul Samrat Shri Purna Ch. Das, was born March 18, 1933, in the village Ekchakka in the Birbhum District. He comes from a long lineage of Bauls, a sect of wandering minstrels from Bengal who sing traditional and spiritual folk music. His father is the late Shri Nabani Das Khepa Baul, a celebrated baul singer and a friend and inspiration for philosopher Rabindranath Tagore. His mother is the late Smt. Brajobala Das.

The Bauls are a nomadic sect whose religious philosophy goes back over 1000 years. One of the main tenets of Baul cult is love for humanity irrespective of their caste and creed, faith and religion, color and custom. The Bauls speak about the universal mysteries of life in simple words to touch the heart of common man.

Bauls seek their own person throughout their song. Their sadhana is singing spiritual songs. According to Baul philosophy, the soul or the Maner Manush is nothing but the god within oneself who has to be perceived and realized through inner enlightenment. A Baul is he who searches for god in man.

The Bauls sing in a style both dynamic and sensual, and use very simple instruments (including the ektara , whose single string symbolizes the unity with God), which manage to create peculiar textures and remarkably varied rhythms.

Purna Das Baul is a real folk hero in his country, where he is referred to as “the King of Bauls”. He represents the seventh generation in a dynasty of prestigious musicians. He used to spend most of his time with his father Nabani Das, who used to teach Purna Das the most fabulous Baul songs.

Purna Das, at the age of four, got a job as a singer in an opera part, earning only five rupees per night. There, he contacted laureate Tarashankar Bandhopadhyay. Their association inspired Tarashankar to write novels like Raikamal.

At the age of nine Purna Das went with his father to Rajasthan to a convention, where he earned a thunderous applause and a gold medal from Acharya Binoba Bhave. In 1942 he joined Akashbani (All India Radio) Calcutta as a Class A guest artist on invitation from the Station Director, without any audition.

Since 1960 he has attended nearly 200 national radio conferences covering most of the radio stations through out India.

From 1964 to 1980 he was sponsored by the field publicity department of the Ministry of Broadcasting. Purna Das was invited to perform as a guest artist of the government of India in various locations throughout India.

In 1967 he was awarded the title Baul Samrat (The King of Baul) by the President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, in the year 1967.

Purna Das has also been involved with movie and theater productions, since 1958, as an important playback singer and actor in a number of Bengali films and theater plays.

In the 1960s, Purna Das Baul’s free-spirited nature and amazing vocal abilities found him in the company of prominent Westerners such as Bob Dylan, poet Allen Ginsburg and Mick Jagger. Today he is known as the most popular of all Baul performers, and has many international recordings to his credit. He is passing on his original songs and traditional Baul melodies to his three sons, with whom he actively performs on a regular basis.


Spiritual Songs of India (Chhanda Dhara)
The Bauls of Bengal (CramWorld, 1994)
Bengali Folk Songs (Saregama, 1995)
Songs of Love & Ecstasy (Womad Select, 1996)
Songs of the Madmen (Kali Mandir)
Ancient Mother: Kali Puja (White Swan, 2004)


Artist Profiles: Prasanna

Prasanna – Photo by Phil Maturano

Prasanna was born on August 28, 1982 in Tiruchirappalli, India. He is the most important performer of Indian Classical carnatic music on the electric guitar. Firmly grounded in tradition and yet extending its scope. Prasanna has stunned audiences all over the world at some of the most prestigious concert halls, international guitar festivals, jazz and world music festivals.

He has recorded and played on stage with numerous international world, jazz and rock artists. Prasanna has also recorded instructional videos.

In 2003, Prasanna released an educational DVD titled DVD Ragamorphism. This is the first ever educational DVD that really goes into the depths of application of Indian Classical Carnatic music to contemporary Jazz, Rock, Blues improvisation and beyond. In spite of the complex nature of the material presented on the DVD, Prasanna employs a relaxed conversational approach throughout the film. Prasanna unlocks the potent wealth of his microtonal Carnatic vocabulary, that makes it possible for him to improvise in a way no other guitarist has ever done before.

Ragamorphism explores numerous ragas and their applications in soloing over chord changes, the blues, chord voicings derived from Ragas, microtonal slurring and sliding guitar techniques, mathematical treatment of rhythms etc.

In late 2003, Prasanna’s CD Be the Change was released. Aside from Prasanna’s guitars and vocals, it features acclaimed musicians: bass legend Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report, Santana, Phil Collins etc), virtuoso bassist Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), studio drummer Ralph Humphrey (Frank Zappa, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter etc), saxophonist/pianist Andy Suzuki (Al Jarreau, David Benoit, Kilauea), and drummer Derico Watson (Victor Wooten band, Jeff Coffin band, Bela Fleck etc).

In the summer 0f 2005, Prasanna completed 2 recording projects. Electric Ganesha Land, part Carnatic, part classic rock, part metal, part grunge and part funk with a nod to psychedelia. The powerful rhythm section features Haridwaramangalam A.K. Palanivel on thavil, Prapancham Ravindran on mridangam, Karthick on ghatam, morsing and B.S. Purushotham on kanjira. Prasanna plays electric bass additionally on a few tracks. “I recorded this album on Pro-Tools HD in the beautiful Mahati studios in Chennai, (owned by film composer Mani Sharma) and mixed it with the ubiquitous H. Sridhar at AM studios on the Neve 88R super analog console.”

The other album project was Ra Rama. “This is a traditional Carnatic CD and again I have a burning rhythm section of Haridwaramangalam A.K. Palanivel on thavil, J. Vaidhyanathan on mridangam and Karthick on Ghatam. I chose to play one composition each from many different composers and sonically this is special since this is the first time I have had both thavil and mridangam on a Carnatic album.”


Spirit of Youth (Saragam, 1993)
Vibrant Aesthetics (Inreco, 1993)
Evergreen Classicals on guitar (Keerthana, 1993)
Evergreen Melodies on guitar (Keerthana, 1993)
Guitar goes Classical (Audio Fine, 1993)
Guitar Indian Style (Oriental Records, 1996)
Roots (Sangeetha/HMV, 1997)
Shakthi – The Omnipotent (Music Today, 2000)
Natabhairavi (Inreco, 2000)
Apoorva Ragas on Guitar (Kalakendra, 2000)
Echo (Saican, 2000)
Peaceful (Susila Music, 2001)
Be the Change (Susila Music, 2004)
Ra Rama (Kosmic Music, 2005)
Electric Ganesha Land (Susila Music, 2006)
Raga Bop Trio (Abstract Logix, 2010)
All Terrain Guitar (Susila Music, 2016)


Ragamorphism (Susila music, 2004)
Live in Sedona (Susila Music, 2009)


Artist Profiles: MIDIval PunditZ

MIDIval PunditZ

Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj a.k.a. the MIDIval PunditZ are spearheading the Asian electronica musical revolution from their home base in New Delhi with their raw energy in their music and their radical DJ-sets at Cyber Mehfils – events the two produce inspired by Talvin Singh’s influential Anokha club night in the U.K. Their love of Indian classical music is intrinsic to their aesthetic, as is their natural fusion of crushing beats and insistent digital sequencing.

The musical partnership of India’s Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj dates back to their childhood years. Having cemented their acquaintance in grade school, several years’ separation would ensue before the two reunited in 1994. Each member brought his unique talents to the party: Gaurav was an architecture student who moonlighted as a radio DJ and Tapan, an IT specialist by day, engineered at a New Delhi recording studio where Gaurav’s station booked time. Both were veterans of India’s dance club culture and, more importantly, both shared a love of the spare yet soulful classical music of their homeland. Pooling funds begged from relatives and friends, the two set up their own studio and, by 1997, their partnership had coalesced into the MIDIval PunditZ.

Much as both Gaurav and Tapan liked the imported hip-hop, breakbeat, house and especially the drum’n’bass sounds of their club-hopping nights, the foreign sounds, “Didn’t leave an impression,” by Tapan’s account. Dedicating themselves to a fusion of their beloved classical ragas with the beats and loops of electronica, the nascent PunditZ circulated pressings of their initial efforts on New Delhi’s club circuit. These were well received, setting the stage for their initial contact with Talvin Singh, whose musical hybrids of Indian raga and electro-beats were gaining international notice. His positive response to the duo’s demos led to their meeting in 1998 when Singh visited India. In addition to the PunditZ being asked to contribute a track for Singh’s second Anokha compilation, they became part of Tabla Beat Science .

The MIDIval PunditZ have gained instant notoriety in the U.S. with their featured track in the hit film Monsoon Wedding and their recent involvement with Bill Laswell’s Tabla Beat Science Project. They were also a featured act in 2002’s Asian Massive tour, which had sold out shows in both Los Angeles.

The MIDIval PunditZ are the first-ever Indian electronica band to sign to an international label.


MIDIval Punditz (Six Degrees Records, 2002)
Let’s Enjoy, soundtrack (Times Music, 2004)
MIDIval Times (Six Degrees Records, 2005)
MIDIval PunditZ Remixed (2007)
Hello Hello (Six Degrees Records, 2009)
Light (Six Degrees Records, 2015)