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I N D I A

First on our list are bhajans, bhangra and ghazal.

Further down you will find classical Indian music, and lastly Indian-based world music.

At the bottom of this page are the reviews, of CDs by Ali Akbar Khan - Hari Prasad Chaurasia - Shashank.

Numen has especially a lot of classical Indian music, but we also have some titles from the more popular genres, bhajans (devotional song), ghazals (songs about love), and last but not least bhangra (English-Indian techno).

Within these "popular" genres, you'll find it a bit haphazard, what we have in stock at any one time, but it can include names like Anup Jalota, Jagjit Singh, Najma, and The New Pardesi Music Machine.

NAJMA: sings modern ghazal (she's a kind of Indian Enya): Atish or Qareeb. 159.-

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CLASSICAL INDIAN

BANERJEE, PANDIT NIKHIL /SITAR: One of the finest of the old generation, he is plain and simply always worth listening to. Order for example Raga Megh/Malkauns, or Lyrical Sitar: CD 159.-

HARI PRASADCHAURASIA /FLØJTE: He is recognised as one of the world's leading flautists. The bansuri flute has only 6 finger holes, but under HPC's treatment, it produces a whole world of the most beautiful sounds. Really alive, and with great feeling, he plays a soft, meditative flute. He is also likes to experiment, and we have chosen titles from his enormous production, for example without tabla drums, with Western jazz musicians and with New Age musicians.

Indian Night Live, Raga Malkauns: CD 159.-
Most Celebrated Flutist of India, R.Mian Ki Malkar (72min.) 159.-
R.Patdip /Pahadi Dhun, very fine classical 169.
Meditative Romance, beautiful. R.Kerwani 115/159.- Four Dhuns, light classcial melodies (see the review)169.-
La flute de HPC, meditative R.Suddha Sarang, under special agreement between Numen Musik og HPC. only on MC 89.-
Now! New Age, unusually effective with for example a background of waves. Once more available, in a skimpy cover but with perfect sound 139.-
Making Music, Indian/jazz fusion (see under Jan Garbarek - World Music) 169.-
Music of the Rivers, sound-images of water! 159.-

DAGAR, ZIA M.
on Rudra Veena: The most acknowledged musician on this difficult but deeply meditative sitar-like instrument. The listener follows each string he plucks, into a level of universal sound - that's as close as I can get to it. Order the classic recording Raga Pancham Kosh, or the newer Raga Yaman - about an hour of continuous introspective music without drums on each of them. 169.-

KHAN, ASAD ALI plays, like Zia M. Dagar (see above) the Rudra Veena, deeply mediatively, so the energy from the strings seems to flow through the air, directly from the speakers to the ears of the listener. 169.-

KHAN, ALI AKBAR on Sarod: He plays with the authority and unadorned beauty of the great Master. We have many titles, and can for example recommend Artistic Sound of Sarod, with Raga Basant Mukhari, and Emperor of Sarod, with Raga Bageswari Kanada. Both 159.-

Then and Now (see the review) celebrates his 40th anniversary as a recording artist . "Then" is actually the very first, and (in this listener's opinion) still one of the finest recordings of a whole raga in the classical Indian tradition. "Now" is a new, more mellow recording. 2CD 215.-

Or try listening to the wonderful jugalbandi (duet) with Ravi Shankar, where they play Raga Mishra Piloo. CD 159.-

KHAN, AMJAD ALI on Sarod, is another of the great musicians of the older generation. We recommend for example The Great Amjad Ali Khan with R.Hari Priya Kanada 159.-:

KHAN, IMRAT on sitar and surbahar. Experience lyrical beauty with another of the greats. He plays surbahar, a kind of "bass" sitar in the alap sections (without drums), and otherwise sitar. Try for example Music for Sitar and Surbahar - "for meditation and love". 169.-

KHAN, SALAMAT & NAZAKAT ALI /song: This is a classic, and a very special experience - the brothers have softly deep, sensuous voices, and sing in the khyal style, from their hearts. 159.-

Latest, after the death of Nazakat, is Salamat, with his sons Sharafat and Shafqat, once more the sound of deep, male voices, sensuous and heart-felt. 169.-

MUKHERJEE, BUDHADITYA /sitar: A master of the younger generation. He plays in a simple, unadorned way, with feeling, at the same time as he demonstrates a fantastic technical control over the instrument. Rag Suddha Sarang. 159.-

SHANKAR, RAVI /sitar: The old master plays sitar with that special Indian lyricism - with a joy and humility which have made him world-renowned and loved by all. Many titles are available. Besides the duet with Ali Akbar Khan (see above), we recommend titles like Unique Ravi Shankar ( R.Bhatiyar and Sindhi Bhairavi), Spirit of India (with 3 shorter ragas) and Incredible R.S. with R. Charukauns, which has a 25 minute long alap, before the tabla come in: 159.-

SHANKAR, LAKSHMI /song: On Les Heures et les Saison, vol.1, she sings Raga Ahir Bhairav with her open, clear, powerfully moving voice - not emotionally. To the contrary, with a fantastic control over her expression. A rare experience. 169.-

Or Lakshmi Shankar Live at Kufa Gallery, vol.1. 149.-

SHASHANK /flute: Meditative Spell has South Indian flute played by the young virtuoso with an old soul. Fine sounds and moods. See the review further down. 159.-

U.SRINIVAS /mandolin: From the younger generation, he plays South Indian classical, beautifully lyrical mandolin. He has become very popular in India, but in recent years also amongst world music lovers. Magic Mandolin and Rama Sreerama 159.-

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INDIAN-BASED WORLD MUSIC:

AMIT CHATTERJEE sings on Songs of Kabir (Kabir was an Indian mystic and spiritual teacher in the 15th Century), with feeling and devotion. Accompanied by musicians like Glen Velez: percussion and overtone song (!), and Eva Atsalis: violin and synthesizer. Lovely bhajans. 169.-

OTHER TITLES: see under World Music

Making Music (Hari Prasad Chaurasia /John McLaughlin/ Jan Garbarek)
Re-Orient (Baluju Shrivastav) A Meeting by the River (Ry Cooder/V.M.Bhatt)
Hot Madras og Nandu's Dance (Mynta)
Princess of the Sea (Chris Hinze/Salamat Ali Khan) Ragas and Sagas (Ustad F. Ali Khan/Jan Garbarek)

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REVIEWS

selected from Djembe, magazine for cross culture and world music:

(You can also see them on Djembe's home page)

ALI AKBAR KHAN - HARI PRASAD CHAURASIA - SHASHANK

ALI AKBAR KHAN: "Then and Now"

The first of these 2 Cds was recorded in 1955, in New York, and was actually the first long playing recording of Indian Classical Music ever produced! It consists of 2 ragas Sindhu Bhairavi and Pilu Baroowa, played by the great Indian master of the sarod, Ali Akbar Khan, then 33 years old. On the other CD, he celebrates his 40th anniversary of recording, with the presentation of another 2 ragas, Rag Hemant and Rag Hindol-Hem. And so we have "then and now".

Ali Akbar Khan came originally to America at the request of the world renowned classical violinist, Yehudi Menuhin.

Menuhin can also be heard, very shortly introducing the first two ragas, helping the new listener to understand a little of the harmonies and complex rhythms involved, and thus better to follow the music. 20 years ago this was, in fact, one of the first LPs of Indian music I myself listened to, and it was clearly the one I learned most from.

Ali Akbar Khan is, to me, not a lyrical player. He plays the difficult, sitar-like instrument, with a deceptive, almost methodical simplicity, behind which the dominant feeling is one of great authority. Each note of the strings seems placed with assurance and conviction, meaningfully, thoughtfully adding to a totality of elegant melodic and rhythmic designs, that constantly sur-prise, and fill the listener with a depth of feeling.

Thus a natural father-figure on the Indian Classical Music scene, Khansahib has taught literally thousands of students, in both India and the U.S.A., and is recognized and respected as one of the internationally great musicians of our day.

Technically, the sound on the first CD is quite amazingly good. Even by today's standards, it easily meets the needs of the listener. A shade too much echo, perhaps, but that could happen today, too. Most seriously dating the recording though, the bass drum of Chatur Lal, the tabla player, is only heard as a thumping sound, without the clearly defined nuances of movement and of depth and length in the individual strokes, that one has become accustomed to, in tabla re-cordings in more recent years.

The second CD consists also of two ragas. On Rag Hemant (25 minutes), we only hear the alap section, that is, without tabla accompaniment. Rag Hindol-Hem (50 minutes) is a combination of ragas Hindol and Hemant, and here we hear the gat, with the master drummer, Zakir Hussain, playing tabla.

This new recording, it seems to me, presents a more mellow Ali Akbar Khan, softer, the feeling level of the music more an integrated aspect of it, than something specifically to be expressed, by the musician, or noted, by the listener. And with the same sense of authority as always - perhaps here more of inevitability, as the listener is opened up, to follow, and just be with, the sound of music.

Jack Donen

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Following are reviews of two new recordings with two virtuoso Indian flautists. And an interesting opportunity to hear differences:

HARIPRASAD CHAURASIA: "Four Dhuns"

Hariprasad Chaurasia is a hardened old musician from Northern India, a classical musician, one of the world's best flautists. On this recording, he plays four dhuns, actually three ragas and a Bengali folk song, all in a light - but still classical - style.

His pure tones and straightforward expression allow the music to sink simply in, consciously, if you're listening consciously, but otherwise to the subconscious of the listener. Whatever way it goes, this creates a wonderful relaxation in one's "system", and it is easy, and always enjoyable, to allow oneself to be entertained by his playing with the melodies.

The 68 minutes of this CD in the light classical style make it an obvious choice as an introduction to Indian music, whether as background entertainment or for serious listening.

Jack Donen

SHASHANK: "Meditative Spell"

Shashank has recently (Autumn 1997) been in Denmark, and Djembe had an interview with him in the last issue (no.22). He is an unusually talented 19 year old, from South India, and plays in the Carnatic tradition. I heard him at his concert in Copenhagen, and was very much impressed by him and his companions.

This CD has, rather unusually, three meditative ragas.

Music in the South Indian tradition involves "bending" the individual notes, in a way that, to me, gives a special sweetness to the sound of their "blues". The slow, meditative mood here softens the feelings, and makes Shashank's music gentle and solicitous. He normally changes around often between different flutes, but here he only uses bass flutes, keeping the mood soft and flowing. Even the percussion, the double-sided mridangam, and the small frame drum, the kanjira, are played lightly and softly, so that the total balance toward the meditative mood is maintained.

For a music-watcher from the older generation, it's gratifying to see how so many of the old, great musical traditions of the world still are valued, and carried over to the new generations. Of course there's always some adjustment and change taking place, allowing the music to adapt to the new times and to the particular artists, yet in some kind of natural development, always re-discovering the most important human values.

Jack Donen

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