Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hippie's Delight: Ravi Shankar

Pandit Ravi Shankar 

While Pandit Ravi Shankar was known in the United States and Europe to a (relatively) small circle of music lovers and started touring and recording outside of India in the mid 1950s, it was his introduction to and burgeoning friendship with George Harrison that saw the Ravi Shankar fad really take off.

By the time the Monterey International Pop Festival was organized in 1967 Ravi Shankar was for American young people virtually synonymous with Indian music. It was at the Festival that the sitar master for the first time played to a mass American audience. His performance, though probably not truly understood by most of the stoners in attendance, was a smash. He was the only performer to receive a fee from the organizers ($3000) and henceforth, he became the obligatory Indian musician to grace every freaky, groovy, like-wow festival anywhere in the Western hemisphere.

I picked up this Australian pressing of his performance in the back room of Licorice Pie for a farcical price.  It is gorgeous.  Raga Bhimpalasi is rendered with tenderness and great feeling sans tabla.  Allah Rakha gets his moment in the northern California sun, with a 6 minute solo showcase of his dancing fingers (fast Ektaal). The audience used to plodding drum solors from bands such as Iron Butterfly are in raptures!

The final piece is a light classical dadra played with a real folk feeling; Shankar manages to make his instrument sound like a country ektaar halfway through which is simply magical.

An excellent way to be introduced to us great unwashed Yanks, I say! Dhanyawad Pandit ji!

            Track Listing:
01.  Raga Bhimpalasi
02.  Tabla solo (Fast Ektaal)
03.  Dhun (Dadra)


Anonymous said...

super! thnx so much for this- started sitar lessons a few months back and just love any and all recordings of ravi shankar, nikhil banerjee, ect... so thnx- also wanted to show appreciation for putting up the mp3 version for mohammad rafi a few posts back-

ajnabi said...

most welcome.