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When the Stars Come Together

Late last year, acclaimed sitarist Ustad Shujaat Khan, had announced a new project ”“ Saffron ”“ which is what might be called fusion or world music in the truest sense of the word. Making music alongside him were jazz saxophonist Tim Ries, poetess/vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi, jazz pianist Kevin Hays and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. The credentials […]

rsiwebadmin Mar 10, 2010
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Late last year, acclaimed sitarist Ustad Shujaat Khan, had announced a new project ”“ Saffron ”“ which is what might be called fusion or world music in the truest sense of the word. Making music alongside him were jazz saxophonist Tim Ries, poetess/vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi, jazz pianist Kevin Hays and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. The credentials and the heritages were impeccable. A Grammy nominee, Khan is son to the late legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan and is an illustrious torchbearer of the Imdadkhani gharana. Ries has performed at various points in his career with legends like Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Donald Byrd, Hank Jones, Michael Brecker and Donald Fagen. And for the last decade or so, he’s been on tour with the Rolling Stones. Goudarzi is a poetess who puts her soul into her recitations of great pieces of poetry. (Her speciality is Rumi). Hays is a jazz pianist who’s played with some of the best in the world ”“ Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny, Joe Henderson and John Scofield included. And Takeishi is a Japanese percussionist who studied at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and is known for his genre-blurring, boundary-crossing music. Saffron had earlier this year also released their debut album to critical acclaim.

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In January, music lovers in five cities across India got to see if Saffron could live up to the promises and expectations. Four of the musicians from the band ”“ Takeishi was not there ”“ joined up with three other incredible musicians on the Mélange tour, sponsored by Seagram’s 100 Pipers. Bringing their brand of rock, funk and classical into the mix were percussionist Karsh Kale, bassist Karl Peters and tabla player Yogesh Shamsi, who enthralled audiences in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi.

While the backgrounds of each of the seven musicians were varied, they managed to synergise it all into, well, a mélange that meant a broader base of audiences could appreciate it. This incredibly talented bunch of individuals presented spellbinding tunes that, by their own admission, they “tried not to name”. Yet, two pieces that stood out, not just for me, but for many in the audience ”“ as the oohs and aahs proved ”“ were ”˜Chhaap Tilak’ and ”˜Aayenge Sajana.’ Ustaad Shujaat Khan, in both these songs, showed us how he is a master not just on the sitar, but on vocals too.

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