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A truly global conversation

Global Conversation will perform on November 16, 7.15 p.m. at The Music Academy

Founded by violin exponent Kala Ramnath and saxophone player George Brooks, Global Conversation, aptly named, is the result of the collaboration between artistes of varying genres to create a seamless musical whole. All the members are engaged in solo pursuits as well as encounters with other musicians and groups.

RICH RHYTHMS George Brooks.

Kala, born in Chennai, began learning the violin as a toddler under her grandfather, Vidwan Narayan Iyer. She also trained under her illustrious aunt N. Rajam, known for her felicitous use of the gayaki ang (vocal technique) in the violin. The rigorous training coupled with a family immersed in music (her uncle is Carnatic violin maestro T.N. Krishnan) ensured that Kala's virtuosity was blended from the beginning with a fine sensibility.

Noted for her flawless technique, richness of sound and rhythmic prowess, Kala has also trained under the eminent vocalist Pandit Jasraj. The 15-year training included accompanying him in his recitals. Kala acknowledges his contribution in helping her violin playing progress from a technique to a soulful voice.

Satyajit Talwalkar.

The San Francisco-based George Brooks specialised in Saxophone/Jazz studies from the New England Conservatory of Music. He is a well-known composer, whose works reflect a range of influences, including Jazz and Hindustani music. He has trained in Hindustani music under vocalist Pandit Pran Nath.

Also from San Francisco, electric bass player Kai Eckhart, a product of the Berklee College of Music, is considered one of the most influential musicians of his generation. His work spans a spectrum. He has teaching engagements across the world, including the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai. Constantly collaborating with artistes, he performs with, among others, the John Mc Laughlin Trio, the band Garaj Mahal, Billy Cobham, and the Jazz band Summit (featuring George Brooks, Steve Smith and Zakir Hussain).

Kai Eckhart.

Tabla exponent Satyajit Talwalkar, son and disciple of tabla maestro Suresh Talwalkar and vocalist Padma Talwalkar, has made his name as a sought-after soloist and accompanying artiste. He is also known for his duets with Western drum ensembles.

Drummer Mukul Dongre is the son of classical violinist Madhav Dongre. He learnt drumming from Lester Gaudinho and has also received guidance from world music icon Trilok Gurtu. He is also trained in the tabla under Pandit Suresh Talwalkar.

Keyboard player and Jazz pianist Harmeet Mansetta, besides performing with a range of musicians, has had the privilege of advanced training under the renowned pianist Ramona Borthwick.

* * *

`Basically, we do jazz-influenced ragas' -- KALA RAMNATH

Kala Ramnath.

Was your basic training in Hindustani or Carnatic music?

Hindustani. I was two-and-a-half years old when I started.

So it wasn't a conscious choice.

No! But I was so much into it, I gave my first concert at seven and by the time I was 12, I was giving regular concerts.

How has having stalwarts in the family representing both the Carnatic and Hindustani violin affected your approach?

I would say it gave me a broader vision. Often Carnatic musicians think Carnatic is the best, and Hindustani musicians think Hindustani is the best. I am able to appreciate each for what it is, with both good points and weaker points, without making any comparisons. And because of this I have been able to appreciate other genres as well.

How did your work with South African musicians start?

I have a group called Raga Afrika. It started when I went to South Africa in 2000 and Nisaar Pangarkar (a producer) suggested I work with musicians in Africa, as nothing had been done in Afro-Jazz. So he collected the best musicians and we began working together.

What about Global Conversation?

It is a group formed by George Brooks (the San Francisco-based saxophone player) and me. It is about a year-and-a-half-old. Basically it is raga-influenced Jazz and Jazz-inflected raga. George and I have played together a lot. He does have a knowledge of Indian music too.

How does playing in large auditoriums and with numerous other musicians affect your choice of microphones?

I don't use contact mikes at all, and I've played a number of concerts without regular microphones too. Yes, sometimes in an orchestra I might need a contact mike. But Indian musicians in general have a problem with sound. They like everything loud, but that is not necessary.

Presenting sponsor: Geojit Financial Services Ltd.

Associate sponsors: Bose, Kingfisher Airlines, RmKV, AVT Premium

Hospitality sponsor: Taj Connemara

Event manager: Show Space


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