Monday, May 26, 2008

Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra

The descriptions provided in this post came from the Magic of Juju

From Henry Kaiser:

"Brij Bhushan Kabra is the greatest slide guitarist in the world. He is an innovator on par with Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt, or Andreas Segovia. Kabra single-handedly adapted the guitar to technical and emotional intricacies of North Indian Classical Music during the late 50's and early 60's. Today he has recorded more than a dozen Indian LP record releases and is one of the most popular concert artists. Aside from a mid-60's release on the World Pacific label, now long out-of-print, this is the first album to be readily available in the west. all listeners should be astounded by his technical brilliance and seemingly impossible control and speed as a slide guitarist. But please listen also to the great emotional depth and expressiveness of his playing.
On this recording he presents Raga Puriya, a sunset raga with a mood of renunciation that is particularly difficult to perform. The alap portion of the performance, without tabla drums, lends itself especially well to the subtleties of his long expressive slides and astonishingly fast runs."

From Mohan Nadkarni

"The Seniya tradition of Hindustani music, pioneers by the centenarian maestro, Allauddin Khan, has nurtured a number of unrivalled masters in instrumental melody. With Ravi Shankar, it is the sitar; with Ali Akbar Khan, the sarod; and with the late Pannal Ghosh, it was the flute - to city only a few instances. The stamp of the master's genius is evident in the technique and presentation of all these masters. The vehicle of expression therefore hardly seems to matter. What really matters is the elevating music all these exponents of a common tradition have given us over the years. Now comes Brij Bhushan Kabra, a new votary with a new medium, to make a curious addition to the already varied repertory of the Seniya tradition.

Thirty year old Kabra hails from Jodhpur, a former princely state and now in Rajasthan state of the Indian Union. He comes of a family which professes allegiance to the Vaishnava cult. All religious activities of this cult center round Lord Krishna and have intimate association with music. To the Vaishnavaiates, music is a means to salvation.

Apart from this religious environment, Kabra was also lucky in being born and brought up to the sound of lilting melody and rhythm in a family of wealth and musical talent. His grandfather had such a passion for music that he used to invite eminent musicians of the time, especially instrumentalists, to perform at the family temple. Kabra's father, too, was cut from the same cloth. A noted educationist and musicologist, he had learned to play the veena and sitar from Inayat Khan (father of the world-famous sitarist Vilayat Khan). Young and impressionable, Kabra thus unconsciously absorbed much of the good music around him.

Meanwhile in 1945, Ali Akbar Khan came to Jodhpur as a court musician of the former princely state. Kabra's elder brother, Damodar Lal, started learning music from Ali Akbar Khan, and this aroused Kabra's love of music which had remained dormant until then. He used to sit and watch while Ali Akbar Khan trained his brother.

Kabra got a degree in geology from Rajputana University in 1954 and went to Calcutta for training in business administration. There he had occasions to attend several musical soirees. As a result, he developed a tremendous interest in classical music. Until then sports was his first love and he had not taken to music very seriously. He joined the business profession in Ahmedabad, in Gujarat State, after completing his training in Calcutta.

In was by sheer chance that he came by an old guitar. He just picked it up and took to it from the very first. That was 1958.

But then there was no one to show him how to handle the instrument. Nor could he dare try his hands on this foreign medium in the orthodox of his ancestral home. Yet, as soon as he settled down in Ahmedabad, Kabra practiced on his instrument with rare enterprise and initiative for six to eight hours daily for three years. Ali Akbar Khan discovered in him the makings of a promising musician in 1961 and encouraged him in his pursuit.

A regular broadcaster, Kabra ranks among the up-and-coming stylists of India and participates in major events all over the country."

Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra and Nawaz Mirajkar

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