An often under-recognized function within the arts, is the potential for one creative territory to open the door to an entirely new one. This process of linking and leapfrogging is particularly important when exploring history’s many realizations of music – that, through a love for one, we might be compelled seek out others which display some form of relationship to it. Embarking on such a process could be as simple as a shared or sympathetic aesthetic element – that one music bears a resemblance to another, or perhaps, in the way that, for may listeners, rock & roll instigated an appreciation for the blues, one contributed the becoming of the other. Among the most active forces in this process of exploration are the artists themselves, sparking it when they tell us about the music which inspires them and that they love. With its proliferation of artist made mixes and radio shows, this among is greatest byproducts of the internet era – that it has activated our ability to readily share the things we love and explore the loves of others. Among my favorite realizations of this, is the NTS radio show Raga Vibrations, a series created by musicians Jefre Cantu-Ledesma & Greg Davis, entirely dedicated to Indian Classical music.
Indian Classical music is one of my life’s great passions. My collection of this music, at this point, is reasonably sprawling, but has taken an incredible amount of time and effort to discover and assemble. Though it was not always the case, outside of India this remarkable, ancient, and vast musical tradition has become incredibly hard to access and explore in physical formats. In most cases, recordings that were issued on 78 were never reissued on LP, those issued on LP were never issued on cassette, and those issued on cassette, never on CD – effectively land-locking and rarefying different generations of recordings, making each highly sought after by serious collectors. Subsequently, the best recordings have often become very expensive and incredibly hard to find.
One might presume that the situation I faced, when beginning to explore this music many years ago – where to find this music and where to begin, would have have been radically altered or resolved by the internet, with countless thousands of Youtube videos now available with the click of the mouse. Ironically, it has more or less remained the same. For those interested in this music, how to find what you like, and where to begin, remains the biggest difficulty. Being faced with a vast expanse has more or less the same effect as being faced with nearly nothing at all. This is were mixes and radio shows play an important role. They are the products of discovery and filtering, pointing us to the best places to look and helping us understand what it we like.
Jefre and Gregg were kind enough to ask me to contribute a mix for this month’s edition of Raga Vibrations. It was an honor to be asked, and an absolute pleasure to make. To varying degrees, the mix was easier and more difficult to make than it might have been during another moment. The vast majority of my collection of Indian Classical music is currently in storage on the other side of the world from where I now am, taunting me with the desire to share things which I could not lay my hands on. That said, being limited to what I had at hand made things much easier. I decided, in addition to the limitations of circumstance, I would also constrain myself to LPs, rather than including selections from both cassettes and LPs, choosing to focus on recording that most listeners would have been less likely to encounter, either because they are by artists who have received less attention than they deserve, or because the albums are fairly rare. In the spirit of helping people discover this music, I have included images and the basic information about the seven LPs from which I have drawn, as well as the track list and the mix itself. Hope you enjoy. Many thanks to Jefre Cantu-Ledesma & Greg Davis for inviting to contribute to the wonders of Raga Vibrations.
Brij Bhushan Kabra – Brij Bhushan Kabra (1967)
Himangshu Biswas, Robin Ghosh – Flute – Violin Duo (1970)
Pandit C. R. Vyas – Raga Shivmat-Bhairav / Raga Poorvi (1984)
Indraneel Bhattacharya – Sitar Recital (1969)
Habib Ali Khan Beenkar – Raag Aimen and Maroo Baihaag (19??)
Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar – Rudra Veena Recital (1974)
B.N. Suresh – Flute (1978)
Raga Vibrations w/ Bradford Bailey (The Hum)
NTS Radio 05.03.18
Brij Bhushan Kabra – Raga Jogia
Robin Ghosh & Himangshu Biswas – Raga : Patdeep – Teen Tal
Pandit C.R. Vyas – Raga Poorvi Habib
Ali Khan Beenkar – Raag Aimen
Ustad Zia Mohiuddin – Raga Jog
Indraneel Bhattacharya – Raga Puriya Dhanashri
B.N. Suresh – Raga Thodi
Raga Vibrations w/ Bradford Bailey (The Hum) 05.03.18