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Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey

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Album Review

Every so often albums like this come along, serving as timely reminders that it's the musicians, not the instruments, that make different styles of music. Debashish Bhattacharya has long been an iconoclast and innovator, using not only slide guitar in his unique take on Indian music, but also here a slide ukulele (you can hear it on "Sufi Bhakti," which crosses Indian and Sufi music in a thrilling and seamless manner). That he's a master of his art is a given by now, but his genius isn't just in technique, but also in feel. He's as much at home on "Rasika," which conjures up Bengali music as he is with a raga on "Maya." Perhaps the greatest triumph here, however, is "Gypsy Anandi," where you can hear Hawaii — the home of slide guitar — along with Andalusia and even Gypsy overtones, apt since they originated in Rajasthan. The Indian classical tradition suffuses this disc, both Hindustani and Carnatic (the two come together on "Kolkata to Kanyakumari"). The playing throughout bathes you in warmth, lulling and delicious, quite spare but never seeming empty. It's a testament to Bhattacharya's art that he brings such brilliance to bear.

Biography

Born: 1963 in Calcutta, India

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Born in 1963 to musically inclined parents, Debashish Bhattacharya was a prodigy of Indian music, taking up the guitar in its newest incarnations as an Indian classical instrument. Playing for All India Radio by age four, Bhattacharya developed his personal style over the next 20 years or so, studying under the father of Indian classical guitar, Brij Bhushan Kabra, as well as vocalist Ajoy Chakrabarty and Ali Akbar Khan. He was given the President of India award in 1984 at the age of 21. From here,...
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Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey, Debashish Bhattacharya
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