Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jazz: The Language of the Heart

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Jazz is that it is an all American artform. The second is that it is joyous, swingy, funky, recreational music, the kind that you can play in the background while you tend to your accounts, whatever they may be. While the roots of jazz extend across the globe, from the darkness of Africa to the cool chic of the European renaissance, from the folk forms of the Mexicans & native American Indians to the microtonalities of India & middle east, it was the American circumstance that threw all these into ingredients into one cauldron & brought it to a boil. And it is joyous celebrant music, since it really is the expression of the strength needed to overcome the struggle of daily life & turn even the harshest of social persecutions into a reason to rejoice.

Today’s listening post is about looking at jazz differently. Jazz is largely a comment on social inequity, hypocrisy & discrimination. However, instead of being a messenger of gloom, jazz turns it into a uniquely participative art form, one that engages you & demands your attention, you accounts be damned. This playlist is meant to nudge you into thinking about where we come from & where we are headed as a civilization. Playing time: 60 minutes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Life and Times of Pandit Ravi Shankar

My secret Santa gifted me The Living Room Sessions Part One after I read about it in some of the articles that began doing the rounds after Pandit Ravi Shankar’s death on December 11, 2012. It was fascinating to hear the informal recording of the 91-year-old with his old friend Tanmoy Bose on tabla. The four pieces, which includes one in Raga Satyajit, a spontaneous creation in honor of his friend, the filmmaker Satyajit Ray, are delicately nuanced with some very intricate embellishments, and seem set for a permanent place near the top of the pile for all Indian classical music lovers. His phrasing is subtle and lyrical, and these pieces lack the flashy question marks that several of his later recordings made a habit of. At 91, he sounds like he has finally found what he sought all his life, peace and certainty.

I wrote in detail about my understanding of the life and times of Ravi Shankar over at Parth's blog. Do take a look. Click below to read it.

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