Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Review---Gopalnath & Majumdar Stratospheric Music

Kadri Gopalnath & Ronu Majumdar

Sense World Music

This is not the first time I am hearing saxophone on a classical Indian music recording, nor will it be the last. Saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and Bansuri flautist Ronu Majumdar unite their musical gifts on Evolution with spectacular results. Although Gopalnath has modified his saxophone to perform classical Indian micro-tones, it still has a jazz-like quality and so it gives off an otherworldly timbre in this Indian classical atmosphere.

Majumdar brings his own bamboo-wind pyrotechnics to this recording. The musician has phenomenal breath control which is essential to playing the flute and there are times when Majumdar leaves his audience members breathless on this live recording. For anyone who has heard earlier work of this musician will know just what to expect. Majumdar happens to be one of those musicians with the ability to take his listeners' minds straight to the stratosphere.

When combined this musical marriage between Carnatic and Hindustani traditions performed on Eastern and Western instruments by stellar talent leaves its mark on musical history. Although listening to classical Indian music never feels like something that happened in the past. The musicians with all of their intense training and Eastern mindset, perform in the moment. And even for those listeners who were not attending this live performance, a listen to this CD feels like a cosmic experience in that if you focus on the music, everything else, mundane or otherwise disappears.

The musicians, which also include, Patri Satish Kumar (Mridangam), Abhijit Banerjee (Tabla) and Rajshekar (Morsing--a South Indian jews-harp), perform Raga Hansadhwani. The musicians begin with a medium pace Alap in which themes unfold. Then the musicians perform a short Jhor/Jhalla before they launch into the composition, Hansadhwani/Pilu Gat in Addha taal. The musicians end the recording with a 17 minute percussion and Morsing solo.

Evolution offers exciting musical innovation, a rare collaboration between classical Indian musicians and all in a live setting. Recorded at the Saptak Festival in India, this recording will boost your energy level and assist you in staying in the moment. I wouldn't recommend it for meditation, but for listening enjoyment and cultural enrichment.

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