Ikhlaq Hussain w/ Feroze Khan – Ragas Live Festival # 14 (Podcast 37)

3 am – 4 am from our Ragas Live Festival.

Ustad Ikhlaq Hussain Khan is a virtuoso sitarist from a centuries-long line of influential musicians of the Delhi Gharana, dating back to the very creator of the instruments ‘sitar’ and ‘tabla’ in the early 13th century, Sufi Saint Hazrat Amir Khusrao.
While his lineage is known for their proliferative work in the field of tabla and rhythmic expression/composition, Ikhlaq’s grandfather, Ustad Ahmadi Khan, was the first to choose a different instrument, sarangi. In turn, Ikhlaq’s father, the eminent Ustad Imdad Hussain, chose to devote his musical life to sitar. Ikhlaq’s immediate family was relocated to Pakistan during partition, and still resides in Karachi.
Ikhlaq Hussain, now a resident of New York City, was granted permanent residency in the U.S. on the basis of his extraordinary music ability; a category reserved for individuals with unusually exceptional talents. This has been a testimony to his virtuosity. Ikhlaq Hussain has followed in the footsteps of his forefathers, captivating audiences worldwide with his highly artistic sensibilities and skillful playing.
Ikhlaq plays in the Gayaki Ang (or vocal manner of playing). It is perhaps the most difficult form of playing the sitar. It involves ‘sytematic use of pitch deflecting technique, where by pulling the strings across the frets and varying their tension, the player can produce intricate melodie phrases from a single stroke of the plectrum. Thus, emulating the human voice to a degree normally unattainable on plucked instruments’.

Falu, Deep Singh – Ragas Live Festival # 13 (Podcast 36)

10-11 am from our Ragas Live Festival.

Falu (Vocals)  Deep Singh (Tabla)

Falu is widely recognized for a rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive rock style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent.

In her early years in Bombay, singer Falu (aka Falguni Shah) was trained rigorously in the Jaipur musical tradition, honing her talent for up to 16 hours a day at times. She later continued studying under the legendary sarangi/vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan – a mentorship that continues to drive and inspire her to this day. While pursuing a degree in North Indian classical vocal music she won gold medals in three national-level competitions centered around rising young classical talent.

Falu later moved to the States, and in 2001 began recording extensively with Boston-based band Karyshma as well as with Asian Massive leader Karsh Kale, subsequently hitting the nationwide university, club and festival circuits. Falu then formed her own New York-based band of the same name, and started performing at music venues throughout the city including Lincoln Center at a special Healing the Divideperformance for the Dalai Lama in 2003. Falu’s recordings were soon featured on multiple albums and compilations include on the compendium CD to Deepak Chopra’sThe Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire.

In 2004 Falu was invited to perform as a soloist with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. In 2005 she was asked to serve as one of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Ambassadors to New York City – a position she continues to cherish with great enthusiasm. In May of 2006 she became the youngest South Asian vocalist to deliver a solo performance at Carnegie Hall (Zankel). Also in 2006 she joined the Born Into Brothels Ensemble (from the Academy-Award winning film), and in 2007 she collaborated with Wyclef Jean, lending her distinctive vocal style to the score of Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut A Place in Time.

In August of 2007, Falu released her self-titled debut CD, produced by Palmyra Delran and engineered by Grammy winner Emery Dobyns. Soon afterward, Falu and her genre-defining hybrid “Indie Hindi” musical style made a splash in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal and Times of India, India’s premier national daily newspaper.

More recently, Falu and her band were featured on National Geographic Channel’s Geo Sessions broadcast internationally, as well as on Fox TV’s Fearless Music, where the hit single Rabba became the first Hindi song ever performed on the national network.

During 2008 Falu began an ongoing collaboration with Jason Miles and DJ Logic in the contemporary jazz collective Global Noize with whom she toured extensively, performing live with Meshell Ndegeocello, Bernie Worrell (P-Funk), John Popper and other talented musicians. She contributed three standout tracks to their self-titled album released in Spring 2008 – her vocals in the album were singled out by Billboardas “ethereal” and “transcendent”. Other 2008 collaboration highlights included with Philip Glass and with Blues Traveler.

In 2009, Falu was invited to perform at Lincoln Center together with Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman for the Time 100 Gala in front of the one hundred selection of Time Magazine’s most influential people in the world of 2008, which not surprisingly included First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

Finally, Falu’s most stunning recent performance occurred at the White House in November of 2009, where she was invited to sing alongside A.R. Rahman again at President Obama’s first State Dinner in honor of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Falu’s band brings together musicians who draw elegantly from Indian classical, alternative rock, contemporary pop, and electronic styles to create a tight mix of East and West, of ancient and modern. The band members are Gaurav Shah (vocals / harmonium), Mark Tewarson (guitars), Borahm Lee (keys), Justin Wallace (bass), and Ramsey Jones (drums).

Deep Singh is a renowned percussionist, born in London England and currently living in NYC. Singh began to play the Tabla at the age three years old and at the age of seven became the youngest disciple of Ustad Allah Rakha. Singh’s professional career started at the age of nine and since has performed at prestigious venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, London; The Royal Festival Hall, London; The Waldorf Astoria, NYC, Carnegie Hall, NYC, among many others. Singh has accompanied the finest musicians from India such as Dr.Aruna Sharma, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Ustad Sultan Khan, Hari Harren, Ghulam Ali and many more. He is currently touring a concert of Indian classical music and working with other percussion bands.

After many years of playing in the NYC down town club scene and merging Indian sounds with rock/pop, he is now coming out with his own unique style of music. With his years of experience as an Indian classical musician and playing with western bands, Singh is revered as a master in blending music from the east and west.

Kedar Naphade, Nitin Mitta – Ragas Live Festival # 12 (Podcast 35)


Sketch from Ragas Live Festival by Rachel Meirs



Kedar Naphade (Harmonium)  Nitin Mitta (Tabla) Performed 4-5pm during our 24 Hour Ragas Live Festival

Raag Madhuvanti and Thumri in Mishra Pilu

Kedar Naphade, a Hindustani Classical Instrumentalist, is one of today’s leading exponents of the art of Harmonium Solo and Accompaniment.

He is also the Founder and Principal of Pt. Tulsidas Borkar School of Harmonium at ACE Open Online University – a first-of-its-kind virtual music school that brings the highest caliber of music education into the living rooms of deserving students all over the world.

Kedar on harmoniumKedar received preliminary training in Hindustani Classical Music from his grandfather,Shri Dadasaheb Naphade and from Shri Arvind Gajendragadkar. For over 15 years, he has been a leading disciple of Pt. Tulsidas Borkar, arguably the most acclaimed harmonium player in India today.

Kedar has also had the privilege of training from Smt. Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale, a veteran singer of the Atrauli-Jaipur gharana. She played a pivotal role in his musical development and sowed in him the seed that developed into a passionate love for the vocal art form. As such, like his guru, Kedar’s music derives inspiration from the stylistic genius and dexterous wizardry of P. Madhukar as well as the character of the traditional hindustani vocal art form.

In addition to classical music, Kedar also plays the semi-classical forms of Marathi Natyasangeet (Stage Music), Bhajans, Thumri, Dhun etc.

Kedar has performed harmonium solo and has accompanied vocalists at numerous concerts in India, Europe and in the U.S. including prestigious festivals and venues such as the Alladiya Khan Smruti Samaroha, Dadar Matunga Cultural Center in Mumbai, The Lincoln Center in New York, The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C etc. He has also been featured on NPR. He has shared the stage with luminaries such as his guru Smt. Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale, Pt. Jasraj, Smt. Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar, Smt. Prabha Atre, Smt. Laxmi Shankar, Pt. Phiroz Dastur etc.

Kedar continues to train from Pt. Tulsidas Borkar and maintains an active concert schedule in the U.S.

Nitin Mitta is one of the most accomplished and distinctive tabla players of his generation, with a reputation for technical virtuosity, spontaneity, clarity of tone, and sensitivity to melodic nuances.

Apart from being a dynamic soloist, he is a highly sought after accompanist who has performed with some of India’s most celebrated Hindustani classical musicians, including Pandit Jasraj, Dr. Prabha Atre, Pandits Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, and Ustad Shahid Parvez, as well as many Carnatic musicians, such as Lalgudi G.J.R Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi.

Nitin has also made a mark as a versatile collaborator in other spheres. He recently joined forces with 2010 Grammy Nominee Pianist Vijay Iyer and electric guitarist R. Prasanna to produce a studio album titled Tirtha that blends elements of contemporary jazz with the North and South Indian traditional ragas and compositions. Another collaboration with R. Prasanna can be heard on the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning documentary Smile Pinky. He has also performed and toured with singer and Juno Award nominee Kiran Ahluwalia.

Born in Hyderabad in 1975, Nitin received his early training in Hyderabad from Pandit G. Satyanarayana. Blessed with raw talent, he gave his first solo tabla performance at the age of ten. During his studies he won many accolades, including first prize in the All India Competition held in Calcutta. To expand his repertoire of tabla compositions, he sought the guidance of Pandit Arvind Mulgaonkar of Mumbai, one of the most highly respected mentors of his generation.

Under Mulgaonkarji’s tutelage, Nitin not only broadened his tabla vocabulary, but sharpened his understanding of how to bring the material to life in performances through interpretation, improvisation and respect for the dynamics between instrumentalist and rhythmic accompanist. Both of Nitin’s gurus are disciples of the late Ustad Amir Hussain Khan Saheb, legendary doyen of the Farukhabad Gharana.

After moving to the United States in 2002, Nitin received a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on Arts. He was a member of the faculty at the Learn Quest Academy of Music in Waltham, MA. He maintains a busy schedule of performances and tabla workshops, traveling throughout the U.S, Europe, Canada and India. He has performed at several prominent venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Weill recital Hall/Carnegie Hall, the UCLA Royce Hall, the Indian consulate in New York, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C, the Music Academy in Chennai, and the Habitat Centre in New Delhi.