Poster of Varanasi wrestlers
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, India’s greatest living flute player, was born in the ancient and sacred city of Varanasi in 1938. His father was a wrestler and the young Hariprasad followed in his footsteps. Or tried to. It was soon clear that he was going through the motions and his heart lay in music.
He studied singing initially with one of Varanasi’s many master musicians, but fell in love with bansuri (bamboo flute) after hearing Pandit Bholanath, perform. He became Bholanath’s shishya (musical apprentice) for nearly a decade and by the late 1950’s was composing and performing for All India Radio out of Calcutta.
|Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia|
He developed a close working relationship with the santoor player Shivkumar Sharma with whom he has collaborated on a number of recordings, including the international bestseller Call of the Valley (with Brijbhusan Kabra on guitar), as well as film soundtracks.
Panditji has spent his career reaching out to new listeners and promoted not only the flute but Indian classical music generally. In that process he has never hesitated to work with musicians from other traditions and has a number of collaborations with the jazz sax player Jan Gabarek and guitar whiz John McLaughlin.
Tonight’s post is a album from the early 1980s recorded with Zakir Hussain on tabla. Chaurasia’s innovative spirit is evident here as well in his including Spanish guitar accompaniment on Raga Ahir-Lalit. It is a brilliant touch. Sunil Kaushik’s playing is perfectly pitched to the moody contemplative piece and never veers into the dangerous ‘fusion-confusion’ territory.
The bansuri remains the ultimate Indian musical instrument for me. None of others is able to create so quickly or so strongly such vivid dusty pictures and deep feelings for that illusive place (or is it just a state of mind?) called ‘India’.
01 Raga Ahir-Lalit
02 Raga Ahir-Lalat (Tal_ Roopak)
03 Dhun Sindhi Bhairvin