Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All Night

The Frog and I happened to attend Chhandayan's annual whole night concert in New York City last weekend. We witnessed three of present day's best artists in full form consecutively for six hours, and since then I have not been able to lead a normal routine of work.

However, the highlight of the concert was undoubtedly Ulhas Kashalkar, whom I had last heard about seven years back in a live concert. As far as I remember, it was either at the SRA or the GD Birla Sabhagar in Calcutta, where he sang Raga Bihagda. I remember the whole audience singing the mukhda of the famous vilambit bandish with him in tandem. It was extraordinary.

At the Synod Hall last Sunday, he sang Raga Ramkali as a bada Khayal. The ambience was incredible since Rashid had just sung a long Jog, and had ended with a Bhairavi Thumri. Early rays of sunlight were just seeping in, through the stained glass windows of the cathedral auditorium, as the vilambit progressed. His layakari has evolved to the highest standards and at times it seemed like listening to Pt. Mansur in a live concert. The tabla and the harmonium mixed with his vocals as if the three were made for each other, much like the duo of Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri. Ramkali's drut "Hoon To Baari Baari Jaun" was followed by a short khayal in Hindol Bahar. The two components - Hindol and Bahar were blended by the master so exquisitely that it created magic at the transitions.

I am dying to hear more of his renditions now, since there is so much to learn; fortunately I just received plenty of his new live recordings to listen to, and am feeling very privileged.