Multi-instrumentalist L. Shankar’s fascinating evolution as a musician and composer took yet another intimate turn with M.R.C.S. Dedicated to Shankar’s father, V. Lakshminarayana, it also boasts master percussionists Zakir Hussain (tabla), Vikku Vinayakram (ghatam), and drummer Jon Christensen. The depths of the album’s experiences are forever aquatic, as in the opening “Adagio,” which floats Shankar’s double violin insights on a dark and winding current.
EMI's double-CD collection of Ravi Shankar's works including Western instruments, however, is one of the exceptions, for it adds a great deal even to the conversation carried on by those who have paid attention to the career of the man widely considered modern-day India's greatest musician. The attraction here, in a nutshell, is that this CD set brings together music recorded between 1967 and 1982, much of it only sporadically available up to now. There are two concertos for Shankar's sitar (a large Indian lute with sympathetically resonating strings) and orchestra, plus works he wrote for collaborations with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal. For purposes of comparison, there's also one performance by Shankar alone.
As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, Ravi Shankar has arguably done more to popularize Indian music than any other Indian musician. Indeed, his greatest legacy may be his ability to make Indian classical music more accessible to Western audiences without compromising the idiom itself. Mainly a practitioner of the north Indian Hindustani style of music, Ravi Shankar has nonetheless also experimented with styles from other areas of the continent.
After the great success of her DG debut Traveller which spent 6 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboards World Music chart and received a Grammy nomination, Anoushka Shankar returns with another outstanding recording: Traces of You, featuring three new songs with her half-sister, Norah Jones. Produced by British composer and multi-instrumentalist Nitin Sawhney, Traces of You features contributions by Anoushkas longtime associates: tabla genius Tanmoy Bose, flutist Ravichandra Kulur, and percussion wizard Pirashanna Thevarajah. Other highlights are a musical exploration of the unique sound of the Hang drum, played by its foremost exponent, Manu Delago.