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Enthralling 'Desi' by 'Videsi'

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Over almost hundred and odd years Indian music has been making inroads into the West. I remember my conversation with the sitarist/ vichitra veena player Gianni Riccizhi from Asisi in Italy who wistfully recalled his first encounter with Hindustani music at the historic 'Woodstock Festival' in which Ravi Shankar, the celebrated sitarist and his tabla accompanist Alla Rakha Khan literally set the house on fire with their electrifying performance. That event converted many Westerners like Gianni to Hindustani music. So much so, that Gianni rechristened  himself as 'Ganga' and set off for Benaras where he lived for the next 13 years without a break and trained under several masters.

Many Westerners later switched to Hindustani music and absorbed the idiom which earlier sounded alien to them.

Ken Zukermann mastered the sarod. Many took up the sitar. The legendary Pannalal Ghosh's bansuri lured Lion Liffer from the U S as well as Steve Gorn. Phil Scraf, the Jazz trumpeteer also picked up Hindustani music from a Poona based vocalist Depsthalee. Nash Nobert, the brilliant flautist, has been living in India for two decades. He is a pupil of bansuri wizard Hariprasad Chaurasia. Nash was featured by Taj Mahal Tea House at a Christmas Special morning concert.

Nash has imbibed the idiom admirably. He began with the raga 'Ahir Bhairav' in which he played alap, jod and two gats. The raga material was organized and develped systematically. The delicate consonance between notes like natural G and flat N was nicely handled by the bansuri player. He played a rarely heard raga 'Desi' with artistry. This raga was immortalized by Kesarbai Kerkar and Omkarnath Thakur. It is not much heard these days. Kudos to Nash for bringing it alive. Bhushan Parchure on the tabla was as exciting as ever. He is a pupil of the venerable Alla Rakha Khansaheb.

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