In this new music-based column, I shall focus on a specific event or development, while also recommending some music for streaming. The thought stems from the fact that after attending a concert or reading about a trend, ardent music lovers tend to search for more music on streaming platforms or YouTube. Very often, that search is by trial and error. So here, I would like to suggest some good picks.
This article focuses on Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri, who performed at Mumbai’s Tata Theatre on January 7, as part of the Citi NCPA Aadi Anant Festival. Held over four concerts spread over a month, the festival also featured tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, sitar player Niladri Kumar, violinist Ambi Subramaniam, flautist Shashank Subramanyam, tuba player Oystein Baadsvick, kanjira exponent V. Selvaganesh and singer Shankar Mahadevan.
The festival aimed to celebrate the guru-shishya tradition. As such, Jayashri was accompanied by her son and disciple, the talented Amrit Ramnath. On stage with them were violinist Apoorva Krishna, flautist Rasika Shekhar, Pravin Sparsh on mridangam and M.T. Adithya Srinivasan on tabla.
Jayashri has learnt from violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman and vocalist T.R. Balamani, besides being trained in Hindustani music. Besides his mother, 24-year-old Amrit has been groomed in violin and vocals by Lalgudi, and also studied the western classical system of piano and violin. As such, he is a composer too.
This recital was purely Carnatic, and the duo began with a varnam in ragam Charukeshi, composed by Lalgudi. A lullaby in Begada and a ragam-tanam-pallavi in Bageshri followed, and there was a neat thani avarthanam, or rhythmic exchange, where both percussionists displayed their flair. By and large, the melodic content was chosen in such a manner that even Hindustani fans felt familiar with the raags.
Besides Carnatic music, Jayashri has also sung in films, and experimented with other forms. Listeners from all over will remember her Hindi song Zara Zara from the 2001 film Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, originally composed as Vaseegara by Harris Jeyaraj in the Tamil film Minnale. She had also collaborated with composer Mychael Danna on the song Pi’s Lullaby from the film Life Of Pi.
Interestingly, one of Jayashri’s 2022 Tamil songs Maayakari has been composed by Jeyaraj in the film The Legend. Among her new releases, one can check out the female version of Daachi Daachi from the Telugu film Masooda, composed by Prashant R. Vihari. There’s also the Kannada non-film song O Nanna Chetana, based on a poem by Kuvempu.
Two new Hindi songs by Jayashri are worth recommending. On Gagan Dhuan Dhuan, composed by B. Prasanna and written by Preetika Dixit, she gets into a nostalgic mood, while talking of the nature surrounding her. The song uses instruments normally associated with western classical orchestras. There’s also the motivational Jaag Uthi Usha, composed by Shantanu Moitra and written by Swanand Kirkire with excerpts from the Tryanbakam Yajamahe shloka, in the Disney Hotstar travel documentary Songs Of The River - Ganga. The video has been shot in the bylanes and river banks of Varanasi.
Narendra Kusnur |
Among releases of the past three years, the album Moon Child contains adaptations from lullabies in different languages. It has been co-produced and arranged by Amrit. Finally, in the devotional segment, there’s the classic Algiri Nandini, which talks of how Goddess Durga protected her devotees. Though there are numerous other recordings of this strotram, Jayashri’s rendition has her personal touch.
Coming to Amrit, the flavour of the season is his independent Tamil song Manase, released in October. It’s got a refreshing lilt, and is about various voices inside one’s head, and as such has overlapping vocals. The video by Ken Roysen has been marvellously choreographed. Recently, Amrit put out the beautiful acoustic ballad Nee Oli, with a video by Gajan Balan. He has earlier released the EP Asma with Amira Gill, and his Sufi-rock-laced song Ennul Inikkum Inbame is a delight. Two more solo songs are due over the next few weeks. Keep track.
(Narendra Kusnur is a Mumbai-based music journalist)
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)