Saturday, June 30, 2007

Video: Shen + Junichi in Kyoto

My friend Christopher Fryman has recently uploaded video of myself with sitar player Junichi Osako performing at the Shanti Nilayam event @ Gaea, Kyoto...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Honen-in, Shanti Nilayam @ Gaea, Nagoya

Last Thursday I attended the concert of Kenji Inoue and Susanta Banerjee at the beautiful Honen-in Temple in Kyoto:

The stage for the concert in Honen-in

Susanta Banerjee (tabla) and Kenji Inoue (sitar)

Some photos from the Shanti Nilayam event at Gaea in Kyoto on my 35th birthday last Saturday. It was a beautiful day, lovely weather, lots of old and new friends. Thanks to Yasu Fujibayashi for organising and to all the musicians and friends who came.

The stream next to Gaea

AUX performing at Gaea

Eric Mandala and Toyo

Thai Massage space @ Gaea

Mitsuru (tabla) and Kazuma (sitar)

Amadoo inside Gaea

Shen (tabla), Yasu (sarod), Shuhei (sitar), Yuji (tabla)

Shen and Junichi

Ashwini Kumar Mishra ("Chintu") and Hiro Minamizawa

Shanti Nilayam finale: Shen and Jimi-san

On Monday I had a concert in Nagoya with Jimi-san and sitar player Koki Yoshida. Due to the presence of sitar player Amit Roy in Nagoya, there are many students of Indian classical music there. The audience for this concert was particularly nice, showing sincere appreciation at all the right moments.
Shen, Jimi-san (santoor), Koki Yoshida (sitar) at Cafe Dufi in Nagoya

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Videos of Shen & Taro in Varanasi

I've just heard that sitar Nick posted these videos with Taro & I in Varanasi earlier this year:

Kyoto - 3 concert reports

Some photos from last weekend, where I attended 2 concerts in Kyoto City on Friday, and then had my own concert with Hiro Minamizawa in Ayabe City, north Kyoto Prefecture...

Echoes of the Ganga
The first concert was Tim Hoffman's Echoes of the Ganga Tour tour, bringing together talented musicians from Varanasi and Allahabad with various traditional Japanese musicians around the country. The Kyoto concert was held in a lecture room at Shuchiin University, a Buddhist university in south Kyoto. The collaborative part of this concert involved a little dabbling by the Indian musicians (especially the sarangi player) while the monks did their chanting. I believe other concerts in the tour worked with "renowned artists of shamisen, biwa, shakuhachi" in other concerts - I hope the collaborations were more successful in those events. Anyhow, it was nice to see the boys from Varanasi - I know Amit and Sandeep personally - and to listen to some Indian classical vocal music.

Echoes of the Ganga Tour with Shuchiin University Monks.
Stage: From L to R: Amit Mishra (tabla), Rishi Mishra (vocal), Sandeep Mishra (sarangi), T. M. Hoffman (shakuhachi), Sakiko Hoffman (tamboura).

Vidyadhar Prasad Mishra (vocal) performing at Shuchiin University.

Concert Tour from Varanasi
From the afternoon concert, Hiro Minamizawa, his student Chie and I went to an evening concert by Shrabani Choudhury, sitar guru of Hiro and Chie. The concert was held in an art gallery in north-central Kyoto, with a nice garden behind the stage. Most Indian classical events in Kyoto (and many other parts of the country) are held in such traditional Japanese buildings. The atmosphere is very suitable for meditative Indian classical music.

So, 2 concerts in the same city on the same day, featuring musicians from the same city! How about Japan, hey? If you take a look at my Japan events page, you'll see that there's some Indian music somewhere in the country almost every day.

Shrikant Mishra ("Toon-ji Maharaj" - pakhawaj) listens to an especially beautiful alap in Raag Poorvi Dhanashri by Smt. Shrabani Chaudhuri (sitar) in their "Concert Tour from Varanasi" Kyoto concert.

Ayabe, Kyoto countryside
Thanks very much to Hiro Minamizawa for hosting me these few days! The next morning we headed off to Ayabe in the north of Kyoto Prefecture. The weather was lovely for driving. We stopped off at the Ayabe Onsen where we spent about 90 minutes washing and soaking in a variety of natural hot spring baths including a nice outdoor bath with fabulous view, a pungent brown medicinal bath with a bag of herbs floating in it and a refreshing cold tub. Oh what a feeling!

View on the drive to Ayabe

View from near Ayabe Onsen (more pics on the onsen's website)

Shen (tabla) and Yasuhiro Minamizawa (sitar) performing at Ohgiya Kaikotei in Ayabe

Indian classical music is great. Everyone has their own individual flavour, and Minamizawa-san's flavour is very special indeed. So simple yet so emotional. He just plays the raga and goes deep into the mood of that raga. When playing with someone like that, I can forget any thoughts of what to play, and just play. The response from the audience gave some insight into what is special about Hiro Minamizawa. Two women both described visions they had while listening to the music, both involving nature spirits. Another young woman just couldn't stop smiling all night, and kept telling me "honto ni tasuketa" - "your music really really helped me". Afterwards I heard that her best friend had died 2 days earlier.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tadao + Shen on TV-Woo (Internet TV)

Part of my recent concert with Tadao Ishihama at Calcutta Night Vol. 39 has been uploaded to TV-Woo, a Japanese internet TV station. The music is Raga Kafi - Gat in Madhya laya teen taal. Check it out here!!!

There's a bit of spoken introduction in Japanese, but Tadao-kun is quite entertaining whether you understand what he's saying or not. Anyway the music starts after a few minutes... (Just to clarify, when you go to the video page, you'll first see a short video of Tadao introducing the event, then a short vid of Tadao introducing sitar, then a long video of our performance.)

During most of the tabla solos, the camera is focused on Tadao-kun... Reminds me of Doordashan's Nikhil Banerjee DVD. :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From Tokyo to Osaka

My only Tokyo concert - with Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Takaaki "Maha-kun" Kuno (ghatam) @ Otoya-Kintoki, Tokyo

Calcutta Night Vol. 39 - Shen with Tadao Ishihama (sitar) @ Salon de Amanto, Umeda, Osaka

Tadao and his mother, about to tuck into some of Tadao's delicious Bengali khana - mushroom curry and parathas

Writing to you from Kyoto, old haunt and one of my favourite places in Japan...

I had my only Tokyo concert on Friday, with regular partner Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Takaaki "Maha-kun" Kuno (ghatam - South Indian clay pot) @ world music live house Otoya-Kintoki. Maha-kun has just arrived in Tokyo so Taro invited him to join this concert to introduce him to Tokyo audiences. Unfortunately only 9 people came... Maha-kun played great though; he has a great mood and lovely smile. He can get away with playing topless too! (apparently necessary for full resonance of the ghatam)

6 weeks in one of the largest cities in the world, and only 1 gig... From there to Osaka where I had 2 shows in 1 night and I'll have quite a few gigs in the Kansai area in the next month - the contrast is distinct. I found Tokyo quite cold as a performer this year, only warmed up by the personal warmth of my few good friends there, like Taro & Yuriko, Takasitar, Martine, fellow Benares tabla-wala Tomoki-kun... Thanks guys!

So! OSAKA! You'll often hear people talking about the contrast between Tokyo and Osaka and it particularly struck me this time that Osaka people are so much warmer, more colourful and more easy-going.

Tadao Ishihama plays sitar in the Maihar Gharana (Ravi Shankar) style, but with his own distinctive flavour. He has been playing sitar as long as I've been playing tabla (13 years now) , but he started learning when he was 15! I was really struck by his sound this time - a very beautiful and strong sound, and very exciting style. He has been organising Calcutta Night at
Salon de Amanto for a few years now and this was Volume 39. Part of this concert was recorded for an internet TV site - stay tuned for details... [Now uploaded - click here for more info.]

After Calcutta Night we went to play at the private party of a rich gentleman in an expensive Japanese restaurant. Our host was a very nice and quite cool gent, and provided loads of delicious food and drinks for all. When I commented on the deliciousness of the maguro (tuna) sashimi, a big plate of it came, which Tadao later told me would probably have cost about 50000 yen - that's about $A600. After dinner we played for about 15 minutes, and we not only received a decent payment but also a very fine 2 litre bottle of shochu (Japanese spirits, this one made from sweet potato). Kya bat hai!

Coming up this week: On the 16th I have a concert with Hiro Minamizawa, who I played with in Varanasi in the 2006 Ashu Babu Memorial Concert. We'll be playing in the North Kyoto countryside town of Ayabe.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Farewell Greenhouse, Dance of Shiva in Izu

Thanks so much to my host of the last month, Chris Case, a wonderful man and a good friend. Having had only one concert in May, I had a lot of spare time to fill and The Greenhouse was a great place to spend it. Lots of gardening, visits to onsens, late night philosophical discussions and documentaries and a fair bit of time on the internet too (please visit my new website!).

The Greenhouse - farewell to my home of the last month...

Chris and I drove along with friends Azusa and Mari to the Dance of Shiva event in Izu. I was really excited about this drive because the route looped right around Mount Fuji. I'd have a photo for you here except that Fuji-san was completely shrouded in clouds - pretty usual apparently. The peak poked out for about 10 minutes at one stage. Anyway, I can say that it's bloody big and conical.

Dance of Shiva : Takashi Kougo (esraj) and Junzo Tateiwa (tabla)

Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Shen Flindell (tabla)

Koro Ito (sitar) and Dinesh Chandra (tabla)

The folks dancing on the final morning of Dance of Shiva

I've just gotten back to Taro's place after the weekend in Izu, a peninsula several hours south-west of Tokyo where Taro & I were performing at the descriptively titled "Dance of Shiva: Travel of Indian mind effect music" party, held in a remote camping ground high up in the mountains of west Izu. It was a fantastic event - combination mini-Sangeet Mela and Indian-influenced trance party. There were four pairs of Indian classical music performers (photos and names above), which made for quite a festive gathering at our cottage, and some very nice DJs. I've been to a few bush dance parties in Australia but this was my first in Japan. There was a lot more ambient and mellow music over the 2 days of this party than comparable events in Australia - much more my cup of tea.

After the event a band of us including Taro, Yuriko, tabla player UKO Segawa and wacky Indian music freak Akira (from Kyushu), visited a lovely little onsen perched on cliffs above the bay, dined on some delicious seafood bukkake and then took the long drive back to Tokyo in time to catch a tabla solo by the amazing U-Zhaan (Hiro Yuzawa), easily the best non-Indian tabla player I've ever witnessed.

I'm now resting up at Taro & Yuriko's place and enjoying a few days without gardening. :-)
Unlike May, June and July are looking really busy for me. Taro & I play at Otoya-Kintoki this Friday and then on Saturday I'll be jumping on the shinkansen (bullet train) for Osaka to play 2 concerts in one night with Mr. Action Sitar, Tadao Ishihama. Then June 16 in countryside Kyoto, followed by 13 concerts in 22 days starting from my birthday gig on June 23 in Kyoto. Please visit my new events page for details.

*** Please leave a comment if you got this far! :-) ***