Thursday, May 16, 2019

Time with tabla master Pt Abhijit Banerjee (2018 March)

Way back in 2001, while I was teaching English in Japan, I had the chance to live in a splendid 125 year old traditional Japanese house in north Kyoto. On the other side of the paper wall from my bedroom came the sound of tabla practice - I was living next to one of the only other tabla players in Kyoto!

That tabla player was Abhinav Garg, who now lives in Melbourne, and contacted me about bringing his guru Pt Abhijit Banerjee. I was very happy to help if possible, and by good fortune the timing was just right for some discussions I was having with BEMAC (Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre) about hosting an event. The result was a BEMAC LIVE event at Queensland Multicultural Centre on March 17, 2018, which just happens to be the 101st anniversary of my own tabla guru-ji's birthday. While we were having a concert of Saikat Bhattacharya (sitar) with Abhijit-da's accompaniment, followed by his amazing tabla solo, my friends in Varanasi were putting on our guru-ji's memorial concert featuring Saikat's guru-bhai Shakir Khan and tabla solo by Pt Yogesh Samsi.

Meanwhile back to Brisbane... Following wonderful accompaniment of Saikat's sitar, Abhijit-da gave 75 minutes tabla solo and kept the audience enthralled. We only ended because of time limitations of the venue.

Saikat Bhattacharya (sitar) accompanied by Pt Abhijit Banerjee (tabla)

Tabla solo with accompaniment by Joseph Nand (harmonium)

Event team: Shen Flindell (event producer), Pt Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), Saikat Bhattacharya (sitar), Abhinav Garg (tour manager).

The following day, Abhijit-da gave very nice workshops to my tabla students and several other tabla players from Brisbane. We learnt some excellent compositions, including a chakardar tukra and a chaturang which I have gratefully incorporated into my regular repertoire.

Intermediate workshop participants.

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