Posts Tagged ‘anoushka shankar’

Ravi Shankar: My World

Posted on December 15th, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .


This feature originally appeared in the October 2011 (#79) edition of Songlines. Photography [above] by Vincent Limongelli.

Click here to read the Songlines obituary from 2012.

Ravi Shankar The Indian music maestro is now in his 90s, but he’s still an avid fan of new, innovative music, as shown in his choice of artists for Songlines

Ravi Shankar doesn’t need much introduction, especially to readers of Songlines. ‘The godfather of world music’ was how the Beatles’ George Harrison described him. When looking back at his lengthy career, this certainly rings true – he’s done more than any other artist to showcase the music of India to the world. Ravi-ji, as he is affectionately known, has collaborated with everyone from George Harrison and Yehudi Menuhin to Philip Glass and Herbie Hancock.

‘I will keep playing as long as my body lets me, and as long as I’m wanted by my listeners. Because music is the only thing that keeps me going,’ he told The Guardian some years ago. Now 91, performances by the maestro are rare, although he did play at the Barbican in London in July. We’re very fortunate that he’s selected six tracks for Songlines – five of which appear on the CD and a bonus track that can be heard on the podcast. Here he tells us why he’s chosen these particular tracks; how he feels the music scene in India has changed; and how to encourage people to be openminded and explore different types of music.

Music has the power to draw listeners into a common space and time – no matter what their backgrounds, interests and opinions. Audiences come to the music with the mindset that they are going somewhere together and that is a powerful motivator and wellspring for social change. If there is music, there is the possibility of people seeing beyond their immediate wants and needs.

Sadly, I fear that the classical music traditions in India are being lost. Today’s world of media, work, work, work and cell phones make it hard to completely lose yourself to a single dedication. There remains a respect and adoration for the music, but there is not the single-minded dedication to its study.

All I can really say is to listen to everything you can. There are artists who are open and artists who are not, just like audiences. The artists I’ve picked here all have that openness in common. I was thinking recently of a performance I saw of Sting with the Royal Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. I remember thinking that this is an artist with a surprising depth. I was very impressed, and I think it had to do with Sting’s seemingly very open-minded approach to music. It’s a powerful thing, this fearlessness to be open to everything.

These tracks are all inspiring to me, for one reason or another. I will say that I find nearly everything my daughters do to be inspiring. Often it may be because they each approach things so differently from one another, and more importantly, so differently than I do. I find it helpful and enriching to experience new approaches to things you’ve been doing for a long time. All these tracks have that in common for me.

“If there is music, there is the possibility of people seeing beyond their immediate wants and needs”

I remember when Anoushka worked with Karsh [Kale], her being very impressed by his unique restraint. He’s not afraid to use a lot of forces in a minimal way. It creates a very intimate music, so much so that his breathing even becomes part of the orchestration. He is very popular among the youth, although many with more experience in traditional Indian classical music may question this approach. I think it is interesting to take note of how successful he is with that approach, even though I, personally, would not gravitate towards it.


Photography by Bill Wood Photography

I’ve always loved violin and sitar together. They are very different and very similar at the same time. I remember when I wrote and played with Yehudi Menuhin there was a sense that the two instruments would continuously come together at a sort of point and then diverge, weaving a remarkable pattern. The sound created by the sitar and violin is so compatible yet so different, it’s a perfect improvisational match. We aimed to bring more possibilities in the dialogue between the two instruments. Eventually Yehudi and I found out how powerful this match could be when we played the United Nations concert for Human Rights in 1967. I think Anoushka and Joshua [Bell] have such chemistry here. It will be interesting to see what they will do after time has passed, if they record again later in their careers.

What more can one say about Philip Glass? Of course, I was first drawn to Philip by his rhythmic intricacies inspired by Indian music. There is a lot I like about this particular composition. It’s so short, but it is truly amazing as film music. In film, you have limited time to convey an emotional state to a listener. Here, Philip builds such suspense, such tension. Much is due to his ingenious use of non-Western instruments, in this case the didgeridoo – so inspired. I’m also always impressed with film music that is so precisely able to capture the appropriate mood, and with such efficiency. It is not easy to bring a voice to a director’s vision – as I experienced with Satyajit Ray and the Apu trilogy. But when you can come together and find the harmony between sound and vision – it is magic. Philip is gifted at bringing this magic out. I hope he gets his Oscar one day soon.

Nitin [Sawhney] is a brilliant musician and composer. I hear such joy in this tune. Its simplicity is its real strength, just like daybreak itself. So much energy! The pizzicato in the instrumentation combined with his melodic voice is just perfect. I am never bored when listening to his music. It always surprises me!

Norah’s voice has such range of emotion. I think that is what most impresses her listeners: her ability to cover a vast range with seeming simplicity. She has a rare ability to connect with nearly everyone. She is also very intuitive as a collaborator, and of course so is Herbie (who I’ve worked with on several occasions). Both are gifted at seeing where two musical minds must find each other in order to produce something truly memorable. They are wonderful together. And Joni Mitchell is quite a songwriter, so to hear their interpretation of her tune is really something special.

Touring with Anoushka has been one of my life’s great joys. A father often sees his daughter grow up from some distance. This is normal and there is certainly joy and pride in it, however, when on stage with Anoushka, it’s like I’m experiencing her grow as we experience and interact with the music. I am very fortunate to have had this opportunity.

When I hear this track, ‘Red Sun’, I hear Anoushka’s youth in the best way. There is so much energy and experimentation that I think it comes from a try-anything approach. It is something that one sometimes finds harder to achieve as you get older. It’s something I try to be aware of in my own music and when listening to others. Innovation is the only way to keep music alive and here, there is a bold compositional sense, pushing to get what she wants out of conducting. I also admire Anoushka’s drive to bring together very strong and diverse traditions to create something totally new. It isn’t easy but I see her relish in the challenge here, which, of course, makes me happy and reminds me how important challenges are to music.”

Five tracks chosen by Ravi Shankar

London UndergroundNitin Sawhney feat Faheem Mazhar

‘Daybreak’ from London Underground (Positiv-ID)

Ravi says he never gets bored listening to Sawhney’s music. This track features the classically trained Indian vocalist Faheem Mazhar. 




CinemaKarsh Kale

‘Avalanche’ from Cinema (Six Degrees Records)

The UK born and US raised musician has collaborated with Ravi’s daughter Anoushka. Ravi describes Kale’s music as being ‘very intimate’




UndertowPhilip Glass

‘Car Ride’ from Undertow (Orange Mountain)

Ravi is a big admirer of Glass and his film music, such as this track where he manages to create a great feeling of suspense and tension. 




At Home With FriendsJoshua Bell & Anoushka Shankar

‘Variant Moods: Duet for Sitar & Violin’ from At Home With Friends (Sony Music)

‘The sound created by the sitar and violin is so compatible yet so different, it’s a perfect improvisational match’, says Ravi.




RiseAnoushka Shankar

‘Red Sun’ from Rise (Angel Records)

‘There is so much energy and experimentation,’ Ravi says of this track by his sitar-playing daughter Anoushka. He describes touring with her as being one of the great joys of his life.



Tags: , .

The 50 Greatest World Music Albums of the Last Five Years (Part 4)

Posted on August 23rd, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .

Editor Jo Frost and editor-in-chief Simon Broughton choose their favourite albums from 2011…


Anda Union

The Wind Horse

(Hohhot Records)

Undoubtedly one of the most talked about bands at WOMAD 2011, this group of throat-singing, horse head fiddle players are from Inner Mongolia, China. Musically, there are similarities with the Tuvan group Huun Huur Tu, but with the addition of two excellent female singers. Their highly evocative music conjures up impressions of vast expanses of sparsely populated grasslands, as depicted in a documentary about the band recently shown at the London Film Festival. This album is definitely one for equine fans – the whinnying sounds they make on ‘Galloping Horses’ is quite amazing. JF




Laru Beya

(Real World)

It’s thanks to the late Belizean singer Andy Palacio that the culture and music of the Central American Garifuna people is known internationally. Aurelio Martinez dedicates this album to his friend and mentor, with a particularly beautiful song written in Palacio’s honour, ‘Wamada’. In addition to the drum and percussion heavy Garifuna rhythms, there are contributions from Youssou N’Dour and Orchestra Baobab – a result of Aurelio’s Rolex Mentor-Protégé initiative with Youssou back in 2007 [see #64]. These West African vocal additions were recorded on one of Aurelio’s trips to Dakar, tracing the roots of his ancestors – he describes this album as ‘a homecoming.’ Palacio’s Garifuna legacy is in safe hands with Aurelio. JF




Boban & Marko Marković Orkestar and Fanfare Ciocărlia

Balkan Brass Battle

(Asphalt Tango)

The story is a great one – the two top Gypsy bands in the Balkans go head to head. Boban and Marko Marković, the kings of Balkan brass from the ‘Trubacka Republika’ (Trumpet Republic) of Serbia versus Fanfare Ciocărlia, the peasant upstarts, from Romania. Each band does a few of their own tunes, they each do a version of Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’ and they do four tracks together. A gristly gobbet of the best of Balkan brass. SB



Blind Note

Blind Note


It’s the haunting sound of the Armenian duduk on the opening track ‘Chiraki Par’ that initially got me hooked. Then there’s the fact that the musicians, from Armenia, Turkey, Mexico, Senegal and Madagascar, all now based in Belgium, recorded the album in aid of a Belgian NGO, Light for the World, who raise money for blind children in Africa. But regardless of the good cause, it’s the simplicity and sensitivity of the music they’ve created that makes this album so noteworthy. Interestingly, Muziekpublique only release one or two albums a year – their main work is putting on concerts and music classes in a small venue in Brussels. JF





(EMI Portugal)

Every young fado singer has got to market themselves as the new voice of fado. But Carminho is the one to watch. She has a versatile intimacy in her voice, as if she’s talking to you personally, and some of the lyrics she’s written herself, which give songs like ‘Nunca é Silêncio Vão’ a special intensity. Featuring several fine Portuguese guitar players, this CD represents a spectacular debut with the opening ‘Escrevi teu Nome no Vento’ a particular highlight with a gorgeous melody and delivery. SB




Cecil Sharp Project

Cecil Sharp Project

(EFDSS/Shrewsbury Folk Festival)

So often, well-intended collaborative ‘projects’ look great on paper but don’t work in practice, seeming forced and lacking in real musical connection. Not so with this project, which I was privileged to witness in action when the eight musicians spent a week together coming up with the songs for a series of concerts and album [see #78]. The idea is simple enough – putting into song the experiences of English folk collector Cecil Sharp during his trip to Appalachia. It’s the quality of the musicianship and their obvious enjoyment in working and playing together that is striking, particularly on tracks such as ‘The Great Divide’ and ‘The Ghost of Songs’. JF



Dawda Jobarteh

Northern Light Gambian Night


For me the kora is the greatest of African instruments, providing a sublime accompaniment or as a marvellous solo instrument in its own right. Dawda Jobarteh comes from one of the great griot dynasties in the Gambia and, now living in Denmark, he’s produced this album in which he does both with guitarist Preben Carlsen and lots of guest musicians. One of the loveliest tracks, ‘Nkanakele’, features South Indian flute player Shashank and apparently the wild guitar on ‘Dinding Do’ is actually Dawda Jobarteh on electric kora. A great debut album from an impressive new artist and it closes with a stately duet with the supreme kora maestro Toumani Diabaté. SB



Anoushka Shankar


(Deutsche Grammophon)

The meeting of Indian music and flamenco isn’t new, but this is one of the best products of that fusion. Sitar player Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi) worked with guitarist and (Grammy-award winning) producer Javier Limón on an album that really does chart a musical and emotional journey, if not a geographical one. There are great vocals from Buika, Duquende and Sandra Carrasco on the flamenco side and Shubha Mudgal and Sanjeev Chimmalgi on the Indian side and spectacular sitar duets from Anoushka and flamenco pianist Pedro Ricardo Miño and flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela. An exuberant recording which is one of the highlights of the year. SB






(World Village)

Söndörgő – hard to say, but easy to listen to – are a fabulous young band from Hungary. They have now started to make an international impact and this CD and their spectacular live shows are the reason. On delicate plucked tamburas, they play the music of the South Slav minorities in Hungary – virtuoso dance tunes that are fiery, but delicate. This CD, featuring Gypsy tambura master József Kovács, from whom they’ve learned many of their tunes, is a great calling card with a cross section of their repertoire as played in the southern city of Mohács. In addition to the tambura repertoire they play some great Macedonian tunes – notably the popular ‘Zajdi, Zajdi’ with their secret weapon, fabulous vocalist Kátya Tompos. SB



Abigail Washburn

City of Refuge


To describe Abigail Washburn as a singer-songwriter and banjo player seems woefully inadequate when you realise this is a woman who has become an unofficial US goodwill ambassador to China (she speaks and sings in Chinese). The illustrative album artwork, depicting a multitude of exotic-looking places and faces, is a good indication of what you’re going to hear. It’s an enchanting treasure trove of musical treats, featuring a host of instruments, from double bass, viola, guzheng (zither) and the beautiful yet rarely heard cello banjo (on ‘Bring Me My Queen’). JF

← Prev    1    2    3    4    5    Next →

Tags: , , , , , , , .

Album Review | Top of the World | Anoushka Shankar – Home

Posted on August 2nd, 2015 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Simon Broughton

Anoushka Shanka - Home CoverHome taping is thrilling music

There’s an intimate warmth and bloom about this classical sitar album, which is largely thanks to Anoushka Shankar’s sublime playing, but is also due to the beautiful sound quality of the recording, made in her studio at home in London. Like her 2013 fusion album, Traces of You, which featured her half-sister Norah Jones and Nitin Sawhney, it pays tribute to her late father, Ravi Shankar.

It’s unlikely that Anoushka Shankar’s home is as calm and restful as this music sounds, with a new baby and a toddler racketing around. Shankar plays ‘Raga Jogeshwari’, a combination of two night-time ragas created by her father. In the slow opening alap there’s a tangible feeling of the warm evening air, scents and heightened emotions. It’s something to bask and revel in. She’s joined on tabla by Tanmoy Bose, her father’s favourite tabla player in his last years. He plays a gentle and un-showy seven-beat rupaktaal. Even when it gets elegantly nimble towards the end, it feels like a performance among friends, rather than a display. The album ends with a lighter, romantic piece, ‘Raga Manj Khamaj’, which she titles ‘Celebration’. ‘Khamaj’ is thought of as a sensual raga and she brings out its arabesque-like qualities with delicate tracery in a shimmering conclusion.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

Tags: , .

October 2014: Top 10 UK Live Events

Posted on October 1st, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .

With post-summer blues setting in, here’s our guide to the top 10 gigs in October to reinvigorate you with a list of the best concerts happening this month!



Faustus will tour the entire breadth of the country this October on a mammoth 16-date tour. The trio – consisting of melodeon player and singer Saul Rose, and Benji Kirkpatrick (Bellowhead) and Paul Sartin (Bellowhead) – released their sophomore album Broken Down Gentlemen last year to great acclaim, and are a strong force in the British folk scene, with an impetus on bringing freshness and vigour to the idiom.

Where & When: Across the UK, October 2-29 More info


While and Matthews


This October sees Chris While and Julie Matthews set off on their 20th anniversary tour to celebrate their illustrious career, which has seen them release ten albums and tour across the world.

Where & When: Across the UK, October 3-November 26 More info


Anoushka Shankar with Tanmoy Bose, Pirashanna Thevarajah, Sanjeev Shankar, & Kenji Ota

anoushka shankar

Following the wonderful news that Anoushka Shankar will be expecting her second born in the next few months, this is now her only remaining UK date this autumn, so be sure not to miss out! She is joined by a star-studded line-up including tabla maestro Tanmoy Bose, multi-percussionist Pirashanna Thevarajah, shehnai player Sanjeev Shankar, and sitar player Kenji Ota.

Where & When: Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, London, October 4 More info.


Dobet Gnahoré


The Grammy-winning songstress from the Ivory Coast will grace our shores for seven dates this October. As part of the Na Dre Dance Tour she will be joined by a full band and a cast of contemporary African dancers. The Rich Mix event – October 10 – will also play host to a DJ set from African Night Fever.

Where & When: Across the UK, October 8-15 More info.


Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra


One of the busiest and hard-working Afrobeat ambassadors will take the stage for a concert at the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room as part of Songlines Presents this October. Dele was a co-founder of Postive Force with Femi Kuti, and was also one of the youngest players in Fela Kuti’Egypt 80. He is renowned for his marathon-length shows that he delivers every few months at the New Empowering Church in Hackney, and expect the energy levels to be just as high in this intimate setting. 

Where & When: Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, October 11 More info


Musicport Festival


An all-star cast will once again descend upon Whitby for a weekend of fantastic music at the Whitby Pavilion. The winner of the 2013 Fatea award for Best Indoor Festival in has a stellar line-up stretched across the three days. Friday sees an upbeat showing with Yaaba Funk headlining and support from Idlewild and Leeds based power-klezmer group Tantz. Saturday’s bill is topped by Lo’Jo, while Sunday’s impressive cast – including performances from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and O’Hooley and Tidow – is headed up by the wonderful duo of Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita (pictured).

Where & When: Whitby Pavilion, Whitby, October 17-19 More info


Balkan Beat Box & Dub Inc


New-York natives Balkan Beat Box take their exhilarating live show to London’s KOKO this October. Their combination of hip-hop, klezmer, reggae and Middle Eastern music is underpinned by a frenetic energy, propelled by their inimitable front man Tomer Yosef. They have support from the equally unrelenting Dub Inc.

Where & When: KOKO, London, October 22 More info


Mohammad-Reza Shajarian with the Shahnaz Ensemble

The incredibly talented Persian classical singer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian will play the Hammersmith Apollo at the end of October in what promises to be an incredible show. An esteemed performer in his own right, Shajarian has also collaborated with Kayhan Kalhor on the exquisite Night, Silence, Desert. He will also play Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on October 22.

Where & When: Edinburgh, October 22 More info & Hammersmith Apollo, London, October 26 More info


Hugh Masekela & Somi


It’s been 55 years since Masekela formed the Jazz Epistles, along with Abdullah Ibrahim, and he’s still going strong. As one of the foremost proponents of South Africa’s jazz heritage, it’s always a big occasion when Masekela comes to town. He’ll be supported by jazz vocalist Somi, who has recently collaborated with Ibrahim Maalouf.

Where & When: Barbican Centre, London, October 27 More info


LIFEM 2014


Following last year’s focus upon Finnish music, this autumn LIFEM (The London International Festival of Exploratory Music) turns its head to music from South America and Africa. Across the week there will be performances from Brazilian musicians Badi AssadGaio de Lima, Malian singer Ami Koita (read more about her in the new issue, #104 on sale Oct 10), and the acclaimed musicians Amira Kheir (Sudan) and Amadou Diagne (Senegal) [both pictured]. The final night of the festival will see the official launch of Carmen Souza’s live album Live at the Lagny Jazz Festival.

Where & When: King’s Place, London, October 29-November 1 More info


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

« Older Entries