Notes Of world music

Updated: Jun 18 2004, 05:30am hrs
For most of us, fusion is synonymous with the Indo-jazz band Shakti and its star cast of guitarist John McLaughlin, violinist L Shankar, tabla whiz Zakir Hussain and ghatam player Vikku Vinayakram. But thats exactly what Tanmoy Boses problem is. Fusion music in India has been mainly restricted to the combination of Indian classical with jazz, he says. He went on to discard this American concept and came up with Taal Tantra, a performing troupe with a bent towards world music. Taal Tantra fuses Latin American, African and European sounds with Indian classical song and dance.

The troupe comprises Mr Bose on the tabla, Aul, Ratul and Baul on percussion, drum and violin and Indian classical danseuse-cum-Bengali actress Debashree Roy. But its the tabla player and the actress also chirasakhas or lifelong friends who have taken it upon themselves to popularise their version of world music in India.

In two months time, the troupe is expected to perform across major metros and in select South-east Asian countries. This is why Mr Bose is currently busy composing a programme on the Navras (nine melodies of life) theme wherein he combines Indian classical with Belgian and Canadian sounds. The actress, also a muse of sorts, will be dancing to his tunes.

Taal Tantras first programme was in 2002. Then came the self-titled Times Music album. Last year, they performed in Kolkata, New Delhi and Kathmandu, combining Indian and Brazilian sounds on water drums, taiko drums, congos, djembe and dafli, keyboards, bass guitar, trumpet and violin. Giving them company were a flautist and drummer plus two Samba dancers flown in especially from Brazil. Having international performers over makes his concept authentic, feels the tabla player, because in traditional Indian fusion music, participants have all been from India.

Sharing his love for world music is Ms Roy. Dance has always been my first passion, she says. Mr Bose says it all began with his dance-music concept of Vinayaka Bhabatu (prayers to Lord Ganesh), where he was looking for a dancer who had not only mastered classical dance but also had contemporary stage personality. After much brainstorming, he zeroed in on Ms Roy.

For her part, Ms Roy gushes that it had always been my conscious attempt to separate my two identities of actress and dancer. I think my association with Chirasakha has helped in achieving something creative in the arena of world music.

Mr Boses major breakthrough in the world music genre came in 1997 when he hooked up with the legend himself sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. In 2002, he accompanied Panditji and Anoushka and earned himself a Grammy in the World Music category for Full Circle: Carnegie Hall, 2000. Ms Roys been acting in films since she was 11 months old (in Pagla Thakur). In 1996, Unishe April won her the prestigious National Award for the Best Actress.

Now the duo is determined to make world music popular in India. When not performing, they dispense worldly wisdom to students via lectures and lecture-demonstrations. Look out for Taal Tantra in your city in the months ahead.