A modern day gypsy... Edward Powell's cyclical
musical existence began as a Western
guitarist, lead him to India and 17 years
with the sitar, and then to the oud through
the Middle-East. Recently Edward has
consolidated his major instrumental
influences, by designing and building a
totally unique instrument. The Ragmakamtar can be
approximately described as a triple-neck
fretless guitar which is a combination of an
oud, and a sarod, in the body of an acoustic
guitar. Edward is internationally respected
as one of the world's foremost fretless
guitarists, and is a rare authority on both
"Indian ragas" and "Turkish makams". It is
his sincere hope that through appreciation
and in depth study of the world's musical
traditions we can learn to become friends
on a global level and achieve important
steps toward World Peace.
"Spiritdance" (2003-6) is another major effort of Edward's to produce a vibrantly dynamic and entertaining CD spanning close to his full vocabulary and range of instruments. Special features on this album include many well highlighted moments where genius percussionist Sandeep Kumar is shining brightly. Other guests, unique inter-cultural composition, and improvisation make this CD surely Edward's finest to date.
On Spiritdance Edward for the first time explores various combinations of unison line instrumental voices such as; sitar/fretless guitar, sitar/slide guitar, sitar/esraj, and fretless guitar/slide guitar, with magnificent results. The opening bright, shining, optimistic unison line for sitar/fretless guitar in the chearful 'RAGA HAMSADVANI' on the CD's opening track "Sungarden" is a prime example of this.
Other groundbreaking features on this album are unique combinations of uncommon Indian drums, and original self-build "African-basses" such as in Om Dum, Jai Jai, and Sudan.
Edward plays all the Afro-bass tracks but Ulf Gjerdingen (Sweden), fills the bottom end beautifully with contrabass (and ebass) on the remaining tracks. No long bass solos but Ulf adds his incredibly tasty touch in various highlighted moments. There is so much more to say about this CD, but the best thing is simply to sit down, relax, have a cup of tea, put on some headphones, listen..... and ENJOY!
Sandeep Kumar (Stefan Montangero) - drums, percussion
Sandeep is a musical genius and an unmatched Indian music enthusiast. He began at an early age as a rock and jazz drummer in his native Switzerland, but began traveling to India at the age of 20. Sandeep wasted no time and on his first trip to India went directly to Benares and to the house of Pandit Ishwalal Mishra to begin tabla studies in earnest. Since then Sandeep has spent over 10 years in India and aside from becoming an outstanding tabla player, has acquired an astonishing knowledge and ability on just about every drum and playing style of the subcontinent. When in Benares Sandeep divided his time and attention between the classical tabla and folk nakara. What is almost totally unheard of for a Westerner, Sandeep was "adopted" into a nakara family who's joint household is in a village on the outskirts of Benares. Sandeep lived with them for years, learned to speak their dialect fluently, and becoming part of the family.
Sandeep also spent extensive periods in South India studying the sophisticated Carnatic system of classical percussion. Edward and Sandeep met many times in India and spent there several periods of study and performance together.
Ulf Gjerdingen - contrabass & ebass
In just a few short years Ulf, from Sweden, has managed to become the number one bassist in the Czech Republic, and on top of that has mastered the extremely difficult Czech language. Ulf plays is so many high level bands it is a wonder he can cope, but being still under 30 it is perhaps understandable. Ulf loves Edward music because it is particularly challenging for bass, but at the same time groovy. Ulf's playing is strong, warm, and witty, especially on this CD where he takes great advantage of his solo moments.
Patrick Feldner - drums, percussion, and kalimba
A versatile and talented percussionist native to Vienna, Pat began as many others as a progressive rock drummer. Before long Pat began travelling to India for long periods and while there acquired a profound attraction to Buddhism. Since then Pat dedicated his efforts entirely in the direction of Oriental percussion. This inspiration began first with an intensive period of tabla study and later Persian and Arabic drumming. Pat now performs in a wide variety of venues and with several top Austrian World music, Celtic, and Early music groups.
Karin Gelnarova - voice
Edward and Karin met in 2002 when Edward chanced to see her perform with one of Czech finest pianists in the duo "Lecba Neklidem" (translated meaning: "cure through disturbance"). Edward was greatly impressed by her voice and the two became friends. Balancing maternal duties with music Karin is one of Czech's most respected jazz singers.
Niel Golden - tabla
Niel Golden is a legend of Western Canada's tabla and Indian music scene. He has been studying (with the best) and performing tabla for numerous decades and is now considered the authority on Indian music in Victoria, B.C.. Over the years Niel has founded several renowned ensembles and produced many Cds, most notably with groups New Earth and Djole.
Currently Niel tours with "up and coming" prominent artists Harry Manx, and Galitcha. Niel has composed a ground breaking suite of tabla and orchestra which has been preformed on several occasions by Niel and the Vancouver Interculural Orchestra.
Elena Kubickova - esraj
Elena has been playing violin and esraj (is a bit like an 'upright' small sitar which is bowed - and has a skin soundboard) for 3 decades. She began with Western classical music but has since established herself as one of Central Europe's few Indian classical music purists.
* * *
Edward Powell was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1963, into a musical and literary family. His musical training began with the cello at the age of six. Five years later he discovered the guitar which became the passion of his life for the next thirteen years, in which time he studied rock, jazz, folk, and classical music under several renowned Canadian musicians.
After several years as a composer and improviser for his first band, a progressive-rock original music trio, at the age of nineteen he began playing in Canada's nightclubs as an electric lead guitarist.
Two years later Ed teamed up with Gord Martin and 'Dermittlegang', and together moved to London for a musical experiment lasting about 12 months. Thereafter Ed moved back to Canada and to earning his living as a singer/guitarist/entertainer.
In 1988, after a lengthy musical "pilgrimage" to India in which he discovered Indian classical music and the sitar, Edward (encouraged by his father) decided to change the direction of his musical development. He began to study the sitar with Batuk Nath Mishra of Varanasi, and continued this period of intense study under Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee (considered the most brilliant sitarist of India's younger generation) from between 1991 - 1994, in which time he received intimate personal and musical guidance from Budhaditya and his father Bimalendu.
Edward began giving public recitals with the sitar in 1992 and has since performed regularly in North America, Europe, and in India. He has performed with many talented musicians; Celso Machado, Ali Kouskhani, Matteo Scaioli, Fabio Lazzarin, Niel Golden, Adel Awad, Sarabjit Matharu, Neelamjit Dhillon, Andre Thibeau, Scott White, Ivo Sedlacek, Stefan Cihelka, Federico Laterza, Roger Baird, Deepak Prabhu, Stefan Montangero, Tomas Reindl, Patrick Feldner, Friedemann Zintel, Emil Heyrovsky, Vastislav Matousek, Vladimir Merta, Bilal Karaman, Ulf Gjerdingen and many others.
Edward began to study the oud in 1994, and in 1995 journeyed to Morocco in search of instruments and training, where he studied briefly with Nouaman Lahlou. Continuing his in depth study of the oud and the Turkish and Arab makam system Edward traveled, in 2003 and 2005, to Crete to stay and study at Ross Daly's musical Labyrinth. In 2006 Edward was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to study with the renowned Necati Celik in Istanbul.
In 1997, while in India, he created a fretless guitar by putting a sheet-metal fingerboard (inspired by the Indian instrument, the sarod) onto a steel-string acoustic guitar. Edward continued to experiment and to refine his instrument building skills through the following years, resulting in the creation of eleven unique original instruments which he now uses on CD recordings and in live concerts.
Since 1999 Edward has released five acclaimed CDs and performed an uncountable number of prestigious concerts in many countries. Today he is considered one of the world's foremost fretless guitarists particularly for his unprecedented work stylistically fusing Indian, Turkish, and Western musics. Additionally Edward is known for his dynamic and educational lecture/concerts (workshops), and was the history's first musician to be granted permission to teach Indian music in an Italian conservatory.