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Friday, Sept. 15, 2006

LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS

Debashish Battacharya "Calcutta Slide Guitar"


One of the world's most amazing guitarists, Debashish Battacharya plays Indian raga on his trinity of self-constructed Chaturangui slide guitar, 14-string Gandharvi and tiny ukulelelike Anandi. He has built 19 others, but his third release in a trilogy of recordings is a dazzling set of ragas all played on these three instruments.

Battacharya's playing reflects his own uniquely refined aesthetic. Trained in classical Indian music, he played on All India Radio at age 4, but diverged early to other styles. Along the way, he has played with world music boundary-jumpers John McLaughlin and Bob Brozman, among others. On this recording, he follows the classical Indian song cycles, sounding at first like a sitar, especially with the tabla behind him. But as the songs move from the slower contemplative tunes to faster, 16-beat ragas, bits of Hawaiian slide, blues, Middle Eastern modes and even African kora emerge.



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