Ravi Shankar has been described as one of the greatest musicians on the planet. This record, one of his classic World Pacific albums, clearly lends credence to that statement. But the thing that makes this record interesting is the fact that it contains a unique fusion of Shankar and his group performing with respected jazz flutist Paul Horn. It's an extremely gratifying combination, and Horn plays with a true jazzman's restraint on the five short selections that open the record. The second half is devoted to one long (20 minute) traditional raga, "Raga Multani," in which Shankar's awesome ability and stamina is matched only by that of his ensemble, especially Alla Rakha on tabla. Essential for any fan of Shankar or Indian music. Awesome.
If you are only sampling Ravi then you may want to buy the "West Meets East" Album. This makes a good second, yet it is still worthy of five stars. The mixture of eastern instruments and western structure show up in this album. This is as much Andre Previn as it is Ravi. It is soothing yet carries a predictable tune. Many hybrids as these pieces carry the plus from both cultures. And Ravi does an excellent job of bridging. If you are a purist then you may want to pass over this album. Personally, I could keep it on continuous play.
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.
Ravi Coltrane's second CD as a leader for the Savoy label (his fifth overall) is balanced between improvisation based on spontaneous themes and compositions that have a certain direction, both concepts blessed with a purpose and vision. Blending Times, as its title implies, signifies his coming of age, his dedication to finding his own voice on the tenor saxophone, and his use of a free-form approach much like his famous parents, John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, in their later years.
A collaboration between an avant-garde modern classical composer and a traditional Indian/Hindi composer/performer seems as unlikely as ice hockey on the River Styx. However, Passages is a collaboration between Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar and it works quite well. Shankar's smooth style fits nicely with Glass' dissonant orchestrations. There is a great deal of technical data involved here. Both of these artists have long taken intellectual approaches to music. Thus, the liner notes are a bit heavy-handed. The music is brilliant. The symphony dominates the soundscapes, but Shankar's atmospheres are integral to the success of this project.
Ravi Shankar’s first concerto for sitar and Western orchestra, from 1971, is a tame, lush, quite pretty piece. The ensemble serves as a kind of velvety pillow, atop which Mr. Shankar weaves coppery skeins for himself, as soloist. The two sound worlds — West and East — coexist peacefully, perhaps a tad sedately. There are slower and faster moments, of course, but the general feel is relaxed, moderate.