Monday, September 04, 2006

Slide Guitar - not just for the Delta blues

While American bluesmen would probably like to believe otherwise, the slide guitar has been developed in many cultures. The earliest reports of Hawaiian slide guitar come from 1876, while Indian culture can trace the use of a slide instrument upon strings back to the 11th century. The distinctive sound of the slide guitar is an intrinsic feature in blues, Hawaiian and Indian music. On Mahima, these traditions meet in the capable hands of two of the world’s greatest slide guitarists, Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman. In the process, the two have created a true hybrid, a spectacular union of guitarists on a very unique album.

Indian raga music thrives on improvisation. No two performances by the same musician produce the same result. For a musician with substance the sky is indeed the limit. Debashish Bhattacharya's improvisations within the framework of a raga or within the limitations of the instrument he plays become a novel experience for himself as well as his listeners. Some artists go beyond what is known and open new horizons in the field of their work - this is one such artist.

Both of today's song selections have the artist's sister, Sutapa, accompanying with vocals in her native Bengali. The 1st one, Loomba Re Loomba , is a folk song from the northwestern desert state of Rajasthan. Here the camel is a primary mode of transportation and thus considered a revered member of the community. The women of Rajasthan sing this song at festivals where they decorate the camels with traditional jewelry. The 2nd one is Sujan Re and it's meaning is a term of endearment. It is the song of a newlywed bride whose fisherman husband has gone to sea & not returned. As she sings, her sense of invincible love gives way to the realization of lost hope. You don't need to know a word of Bengali to appreciate the sad beauty of what she is feeling - just close your eyes & let her voice tell the story.

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