P.O. Box 1229 * Woodstock, NY 12498 * Phone/Fax: (845) 679-4490
Ragas on Slide Guitar [Simla House 006] 2003
Barun Kumar Pal-Slide Guitar~ Ray Spiegel-Tabla, percussion, producer
Barun Kumar Pal is one of India's great musicians. He has played the slide guitar since childhood and was a child prodigy on the instrument, performing in concerts and radio broadcasts since the age of 7. Barun comes from an enlightened musical family from Eastern India in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh. Over many years Barun has made numerous innovative changes to the instrument he started playing as a child, adding strings and changing the shape of guitar until it now resembles an Indian musical instrument more than the "Hawaiian style" guitar from which it evolved. In addition to his amazing technical prowess on this instrument, derived from countless hours of practice, Barun Pal, a disciple of the maestro Ravi Shankar, possesses a treasure-trove of knowledge of the Indian Raga system of music, and a highly developed approach to rhythm. He resides in New Delhi, India at the Aurobindo Aashram where he is the director of the music department, and oversees the teaching of hundreds of students from all over India and abroad. He has accomplished new and innovative feats of teaching, such as composing for and conduting a children's orchestra of Indian classical music with over three hundred members!
Barunji has chosen Raga Malkauns for this recording. It is a serious and deep raga that is difficult to play. The mood of Raga Malkauns is calm and grave and evokes the feelings of devotion, sadness, and heroism. The traditional time for this raga is mid-night.
The recording begins with track 1, "Alap", the traditional opening movement in which the artist slowly reveals the raga note by note accompanied only by the droning of the tanpura. The tempo gradually increases to a fast pace and concludes. The next piece is the "Madhya Gat in Teen Tal" (track 2) where the tabla joins the slide guitar in a rare vocal composition adapted perfectly by Barunji to his instrument. Ray Spiegel recorded the original tabla on a low pitched tabla which you hear in the left channel, and later another tabla track on a high pitched tabla in the right channel matched exactly to the low pitched tabla. The effect is that of a duet, or "jugalbandi" made famous by the illustrious father and son masters of tabla, Ustad Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain. The final portion of Raga Malkauns is track 3, "Drut Gat" in Teen Tal. Drut means fast (gat means composition), and this track features a composition and improvisation in a fast and accelerating tempo, culminating in a rapid final composition at an extremely fast tempo. The last track is "Raga Piloo" a beautiful and sweet raga that expresses the emotions of love, joy, and romance. After a short alap the drums enter. The rhythm is "Sitarkhani tal", a cycle of sixteen beats with a syncopated lilt. Ray plays the tabla set in the right channel and a nakara drum in the left as well as the manjira, the Indian cymbals.
Ray Spiegel has played tabla for over three decades, having spent many years under the tutelage of Ustad Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, and B.S. Ramanna. He also received insight and training from Peter Perringer, who was the brilliant American born prodigy student of Ustads Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain. He was introduced to the tabla by John Cooper, a visionary composer and pianist who led the East-West Chamber Ensemble in the late 1960's. Ray's first tour abroad was with John Cooper and the ensemble in 1971, which lasted three months, after which he stayed on in India for one year to study tabla with Sri B. S. Ramanna in New Delhi. Born in New York of Japanese-American ancestry, Ray has performed with many of India's greatest musicians, and is known for his sensitive and exciting accompaniment of instrumental as well as vocal music and tabla solos steeped in the Punjab Gharana (style) of tabla. Ray has recorded over thirty LPs and CDs with Indian and western music, and works in soundtrack recordings for film and television. He has performed and recorded in the U.S. and India as both accompanist and soloist, appearing with well-known artists such as: Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain (tabla), Ravi Shankar (sitar), Sultan Khan (Sarangi), Aashish Khan, Geoffery Lipner, Stephen James, Buddhadev Das Gupta, Steve Oda, and Ken Zuckerman (Sarode), Vidyadhar Vyas, Raka Mukherjee, Warren Senders, Stan Scott, Sheila Dhar, Esha Bandopadhaya, Pran Nath, LaMonte Young, and Balram Puri (vocalists), Irshad Khan, Manilal Nag, Mita Nag, James Pomerantz, and Partha Bose (Sitar), Paul Alexandre John, Steve Gorn and Ragunath Seth (Bansuri flute), Barun Kumar Pal (Hindustani Guitar), and Chitresh Das (Kathak dance).
Outside the realm of traditional Indian Classical Music, Ray leads his group, the Ray Spiegel Ensemble, composes and records film and television soundtracks, and performs with many various artists. His past recording and performing credits include: The Grateful Dead, Patty Smyth, Mickey Hart/Diga Rhythm Band, Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience, Tor Dietrichson, Gordon Lee, Robert Bly, Najma, Bhagavan Das, Gabrielle Roth, L. Shankar (violin), Bon Jovi, Paul Winter, Danilo Perez, Mike Diamond (Beastie Boys), Karl Berger, John Cooper, Tim Armacost, Karl Perazo, Rebecca Maleon, Carlos Federico, and Bill Cosby television productions. Ray is also the founder of Simla House, an independent record label.
Ray Spiegel's Discography (selected):
Diga Rhythm Band DIGA [Round Records RX-LA600-G/RX-110] 1976. Re-released on CD:[RYKODISC RCD 10101] 1988
The Grateful Dead - SHAKEDOWN STREET [Arista ALB6-8321] 1978
Sri Gour Goswami & Steve Gorn - THE INDIAN BAMBOO FLUTE [Lyrichord LLST 7387 Re-released on CD: LYRCD 7387] 1985
Tor Dietrichson - GLOBAL VILLAGE [Global Pacific Records WK 40728] 1987
Zakir Hussain & THE RHYTHM EXPERIENCE [Aspen Records APN 307 CD] 1987 &[Moment Records MRCD 1007] 1991
Tony Dagradi - SWEET REMEMBRANCE [Gramavision 18-8707-1] 1987
Patty Smyth - NEVER ENOUGH [Columbia CK 40182] 1987
Paul Alexandre John - JOURNEY OVER INDIA [Flying Bird Music] 1990
Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors - TONGUES [Raven] 1995
Manilal Nag - LIVE IN WOODSTOCK [Raga-215] 1995
Kenny Werner/SYDA YOGA- RAGA TARANGA [SYDA Foundation] 1995
Celtic Twilight - VOL. 3: LULLABIES [HEARTS OF SPACE CD11107] 1996
Noirin Ni Riain - CELTIC SOUL [Living Music LMUS 0031] 1996
Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors - ZONE UNKNOWN [Raven] 1997
Ray Spiegel Ensemble - SUM AND KALI [Simla House 001] 1998
Patty Smyth - GREATEST HITS;FEATURING SCANDAL [SONY CD65616] 1998
Danilo Perez - CENTRAL AVENUE [Impulse! IMPD279] 1998 (Grammy Award Nominee)
Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa - THIRAKWA Bombay [Simla House002]1999 (produced by Ray Spiegel)
Vidyadhar Vyas - COLORS OF THE NIGHT [Simla House 003] 2000 (produced by Ray Spiegel)
Dave Tofani - AN AMERICAN GARDEN [Solowinds SW1701] 2001
Mickey Hart - THE BEST OF MICKEY HART [Rykodisc38525] 2002
Paul Alexandre John - DUSK MONSOON [Simla House 004] 2002
Karl Berger & Friends - STILLPOINT [Double Moon DMCHR 71029] 2003
Barun Kumar Pal- RAGAS ON SLIDE GUITAR [Simla House 006]2003 (produced by Ray Spiegel)
Ray Spiegel Ensemble - RAGA JAZZ [Simla House 007]2004 (produced by Ray Spiegel)