Record Store Day has been a way to pick up new releases and reissues of some of your favorite rock, jazz, country, indie/alternative, funk, hip-hop, and so many other genres but unless it was in the used record section, you don’t hear too much about any new Indian classical music. That’s about to change this year with the release of a previously unreleased live recording by the late Pandit Ravi Shankar.
The Ravi Shankar Foundation’s East Meets West Music and Northern Spy Records are going to release In Hollywood, 1971, which will be released as a 2-record set. While Shankar released a number of live albums in his lifetime, only a small handful consisted of live performances he held in his California home. This is one of those instances as this is taken from a show he did in June 12th in Hollywood. Shankar is joined by Alla Rakha on tabla and Kamala Chakravarty on tanpura, all of whom would perform at George Harrison’s Concert For Bangla Desh two months later.
In Hollywood, 1971 is being made for charity as it is an album where the profits will benefit the Ravi Shankar Foundation, which helps to keep the spirit of Indian classical music alive along with making sure Shankar’s archives are kept alive and active.
On February 7, 2012, Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka did a performance in Bangalore, India. It would become Shankar’s last performance in his homeland, as he died before the end of the year at the age of 92. East Meets West are releasing the highlights of that three hour performance in a DVD entitled Ravi & Anoushka Shankar Live In Bangalore
on September 11th. I saw the both of them perform in October 2001 and if the jugalbandi wasn’t sensed in that room that night, you were not there. It can be felt in the excerpted video above and this proves that the power of Indian classical music will live on for years, if not centuries.
As part of East Meets West’s Nine Decades series of releases, honoring the music and works of the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, they are releasing a remastered recording from August 6, 1976. A Night At St. John The Divine was done on an evening meant to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shankar’s first concert in the United States. It was a “dusk to dawn” concert, featuring a number of artists throughout the day. Shankar also featured Alla Rakha on tabla, along with Asant Rai and Shambhu Das on tanpuras. The performance on A Night At St. John The Divine was done in the early morning and it is said that when Shankar saw the sun coming up, he played the music appropriately. The CD will be released on August 12th, pre-orders are available below via Amazon.com.
My love of Pandit Ravi Shankar and his music came about through my dad, who was a huge Beatles fan. Apparently when they were young, he and his friends would buy Shankar albums and get high so they could trip out to the sounds. Maybe not ideal, as Shankar has said more or less that one should be able to obtain enlightenment in other words, music being one of them. We lived next door to a family whose son was a long time friend of mine. They used to do their share of Friday night parties, and one of those albums was Three Ragas
on Capitol (the reissue of the same album on Angel Records, but the Capitol pressing came about post-Beatles). I didn’t understand the music then, but loved what it sounded like. I then started liking Shankar for much more than being someone connected with The Beatles, to where I started listening to everyone from Ali Akbar Khan to Vilayat Khan, Bismillah Khan to Kalyani Roy. Years after hearing him for the first time, I saw Shankar live for the first time in October 2001, where he was accompanied by his daughter, Anoushka. It was incredible, not bad for a concert that only consisted of him performing two ragas. At the time, Shankar was 81.
At 92, Shankar continues to perform, although not taking big tours as he did in the first half of his life. Tenth Decade in Concert: Live In Escondido is a forthcoming DVD release that honors his 92 years in life and music, in a performance that has Tanmoy Bose (tabla), Ravichandra Kulur (flute, Kanjira), Parimal Sadaphal (sitar), Samir Chatterjee (tabla), Kenji Ota (tanpura and swarmandal), and Barry Phillips (tanpura) behind him in a four song performance, resulting in an 84 minute presentation:
1. Yaman Kalyan
3. Goonga Sitar
It will be released on December 11, 2012.
Herbie Hancock recently released his new album, The Imagine Project (Hancock), featuring a diverse selection of musicians and singers, including Derek Trucks, India.Arie, Chaka Khan, Juanes, John Legend, and Los Lobos. Here, Hancock has a jam session of sorts with the legendary Indian musician, Pandit Ravi Shankar, with help from longtime associate and friend, George Duke.
Pandit Ravi Shankar celebrated his 90th birthday this year, and has recorded and toured for most of his life. In honor, the newly created East Meets West Music has just released Nine Decades Vol. 1: 1967-1968, the first of nine volumes looking deep into his recording career, showing his influence not only amongst other Indian classical musicians, but his impact on popular music around the world.
The album is also available on compact disc and digitally, but having Shankar on vinyl seems perfect and ideal. The track listing is as follows:
1. Raga Gangeshwari 48:05
2. West Meets East (12:08)
3. Durga Suktam & Mahishasura Mardini Stotram (4:15)
His longer pieces may be an endurance test for new listeners, but those who are fans will no doubt prepare for the stages, climb, and satisfying descent that he has become known for.
The first project will be the first in a series of albums called Nine Decades, with the first volume to be released on April 7th, Shankar’s 90th birthday. The series promises many rare and previously unreleased recordings from the sitar master, so fans of Indian classical music will be anticipating this one. The series will be released on vinyl (yes), CD, and also through digital means.
The second release will be a completely remastered and restored version of the 1971 documentary film Rage, released by Apple Films in 1971. The soundtrack to the album, also released by Apple, has never been reissued but will finally see its CD debut after many requests from Shankar and Beatles/Apple fans alike. Both the DVD and CD are expected for release in the Fall of 2010.
Outside of his own works, East Meets West Music will highlight brand new music with approval from Ravi Shankar and daughter Anoushka Shankar. No word on who will be the first artists chosen, but since father and daughter have very diverse tastes and interests in music, it will be very interesting to see what gets the Shankar Foundation seal of approval.
Indian classical music virtuoso Ravi Shankar and the people of the Ravi Shankar Foundation have been doing a lot of research to track down and document his musical legacy. It seems the first fruits of their labor will be seeing the light of day, for all to hear with the creation of East Meets West Music, a label named after the classic Shankar album East Meets West.
Fans down under will be able to see Ravi & Anoushka Shankar perform live in March as they will be doing a small amount of concerts, you can find confirmed dates here. Anoushka has a concert planned in Italy at the end of March. When she and family will celebrate her father’s 90th year, she will then go on her own tour as The Anoushka Shankar Project, doing shows throughout the U.S. before heading to Europe and coming back to the U.S. at the start of June. You can find confirmed tour dates on Anoushka’s home page.
Ali Akbar Khan was one of the best sarod players of the 20th century, taking on the lineage of his father, Allaudin Khan, and embracing the friendship with one of his father’s students, Ravi Shankar. Khan would record many albums and performed countless times throughout the years, but it was his time with Shankar that helped push not only Indian music into something more global, but also Indian culture and spirituality.
Khan died on Friday due to a kidney ailment. He was 87 years old.