Few living players of the bansuri coax such melodic joy from their instrument as the gifted Deepak Ram. On "One Breath", Deepak and accompanying tabla maestro Pandit Anindo Chatterjee perform three, brilliantly conceived ragas in North Indian Classical (Hindustani) style. With unified precision and balance the two delve deeply into highly formidable, richly liberating musical structures cultivated over centuries by successive master musicians - of whose legacy Ram and Chatterjee both share.
In Hindustani classical music the listener as well plays an active and crucial role. Through Deepak's spacious tone, formal logic, and stunning skills at melodic invention (improvisation), he invites the listener to explore deeply affective musical spheres hidden in the ragas. Sounds are carefully wrought and emerge gradually to reveal subtle, but continuously shifting patterns of rhythmic and melodic variation. As each raga steadily increases in ambitus (musical density), one's ears become sharply focused on experiencing the musical moment, on experiencing the musical architecture as it is being built. Creating this experience is a cornerstone of the art and to which the pair excel remarkably. Moreover, Ram's impressive vocabulary of sonorities elicited through various embouchure and breathing techniques, and masterful control of rhythmic and temporal pacing, aid the listener in his journey toward the desired perceptual state of "rasa" (literally, tasting the "sweetness" of the fruit).
Perhaps beginning with the revered Ravi Shankar and Alla Raka of the 1960s, classical music of the South Asian subcontinent has been increasingly accessible to the tastes of Europeans and Americans. Recently, a new generation of Indian master musicians - e.g., Zakir Hussain, U. Shrinivas, L. Shankar among others - have settled in the west to continue exploring this great tradition. On "One Breath" Deepak Ram and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee realize such tradition superbly.
Notes by Stephen Mamula
September 2007, New York