Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ConcertWatch: Kala Ramnath + Yogesh Samsi, Djan Djan

I've attended a couple of excellent concerts in the last few weeks. On Sunday March 14 I attended a program by amazing violinist Kala Ramnath, accompanied by Yogesh Samsi on tabla, a senior disciple of Ustad Alla Rakha. The program was to introduce Australian audiences to Yogesh-ji's student Iyngaran Kantharajah from Sydney, and the concert opened with a tabla duet by Yogesh-ji and Iyngaran, accompanied on sarangi by Sandeep Mishra, a friend of mine from Varanasi. Iyngaran's tabla broke on the way to the concert so he was very lucky that I'd come from my own afternoon concert with Tibet2Timbuk2 and could lend him a tabla. We tuned my tabla to Pa so the two tablas together in Sa and Pa sounded excellent. I felt especially fortunate to see this concert because in Varanasi, Kala Ramnath's aunt N. Rajam would soon be performing at my Guru-ji's Memorial Concert on Tulsi Ghat. So in a sense this concert was a kind of substitute for that Tulsi Ghat concert for me. The day after the concert I went to visit Yogesh-ji where he was staying with one of my students, and we had a very nice chat about tabla and Indian music.

Tabla duet by Pt Yogesh Samsi and his student Iyngaran Kantharajah, accompanied on sarangi by Sandeep Mishra

Kala Ramnath (violin) accompanied by Yogesh Samsi (tabla). Kala-ji performed Raga Shuddh Kalyan in vilambit ektaal, madhya lay ektaal, and drut teentaal, followed by Raga Bhairavi in dadara. A most excellent performance!

Later in the week I attended a concert at Judith Wright Centre by Djan Djan, a group consisting of kora master Mamadou Diabate, slide guitarist Jeff Lang and tabla player Bobby Singh. The group's sound was excellent, with the instruments slotting together easily. All the musicians were technically excellent, with Mamadou really shredding it up. On the critical side, I found vocals lacking - only two songs were not instrumental - and the rhythm and song structures were all very similar 4/4 pieces. I had a very interesting discussion with my good friend Bobby Singh after the show - it's nice whenever we can get together.  Hopefully next time with tabla as well!

Djan Djan - Jeff Lang (slide guitar), Bobby Singh (tabla), Mamadou Diabate (kora)


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