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In Video: Tabla and Sitar Come Together

Two professional musicians performed north Indian classical ragas at the Jain Center of Northern California in Milpitas on June 25. It was a first for Ustad Tari Khan and Purbayan Chatterjee, who have never played together.

International performers Ustad Tari Khan, a tabla player originally from Pakistan, and Purbayan Chatterjee, a sitar player from India, joined forces on stage for the first time in Milpitas on June 25.

Khan has inspired generations of musicians, including the young Chatterjee, 35, who grew up listening to his music. The two did not rehearse ahead of time, but improvised on stage. Improvisation, a concept also found in jazz,  is a common characteristic of north Indian classical music. 

South Indian classical music is more rigid, said Chatterjee, perhaps because minstrels from northern Indian traveled to the southern region and preserved the traditions, while north India had Muslim and Persian influences. 

The songs, known as ragas, go back thousands of years, he said, but compositions within the ragas have been around for the past hundred years, or even recently. Musicians improvise within the perimeters.

"Our music is one of the most secular things we have in our country," said the Calcutta-based Chatterjee. "It really has no religion. It is religion on its own."

Khan agreed. "Music is life," he said.

Basant Bahar is a nonprofit volunteer group that brings Indian classical performers to the south bay. Chatterjee came through the Jain Center of Northern California on his second to last day in the United States before returning to India.

For audience member, Charu Tosh Dixit, who is from Lucknow, India, but has lived in Santa Clara since 1993, it was an opportunity to see the performers in person. Until then, he had only seen Khan's performances on YouTube, he said. 

"It's definitely been an electric atmosphere," he said. "And, of course, expectations are really high because everyone knows about the quality of the players."

John S July 03, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Would have liked this better if it had more music and less voiceover. Naturally, it reminds me of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Kahn. Makes me want to dig out my old LP's from the '60's. Not that it's been that long that I've listened to them. Although my favorite was East Meets West With Ravi and Yehudi Menuhen. Was glad that it was reissued on CD a few years back. (Please forgive any name misspellings.) Peace, John of Milpitas
Mamta July 04, 2011 at 06:53 AM
Awesome !!!
Adelaide Chen July 04, 2011 at 03:47 PM
John, I added more videos (two songs without any voiceovers). Enjoy!
John S July 04, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Thank you Adelaide, These videos were really great and I'll be keeping them and I'm sure reviewing again and again. The 2nd video really rocks while the last is really nice. Ustad's hands are so quick... Peace and hope you're having a good 4th, John

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