Trilok Gurtu :: Remembrance
I discovered Trilok Gurtu by accident in 1991 during college. On a quest to expand my musical collection of great guitarists, I picked up a copy of the John McLaughlin Trio's "Live at the Royal Festival Hall." Apart from the group's incredible performances, and of course John's blazing guitar, I was inspired to see a fellow Indian in such prominence in the Western Jazz world, and also by his exuberant and very eclectic drumming style, particularly on a traditional trap set, and not just the tabla.
Trilok's had a remarkable career in recent years, most notably with his African-Indian projects and his compelling contribution on Tabla Beat Science, showing the versatility of his musicianship. No matter all the explorations we may attempt though, one as always is drawn back home at some point, and such is the case on Remembrance." With guest contributions from such luminaries of Indian classical music as Zakir Hussain, Sultan Khan, Ronu Majumdar, and his own mother, Shobha Gurtu, Remembrance pays homage to Trilok's past joined with the technology and diversity of his current influences.
"Brindavan Dance" intros with techno synth overlaid with rising Bollywood star, Shankar Mahadevan's vocals, and laced with Majumdar's swirling bansuri. Maestro Sultan Khan's sarangi sets the tone for "Expression of Love" as Queen of Thumri, Shobha Gurtu's buttery velvet singing duets with Mahadevan's. A sinous shehnai melody, ubiquitous at wedding ceremonies in India, signals the message in "Witness to Marriage." And Ronu's flutes juxtapose over a drum and bass loop on "Our Heritage."
"Evening in India" is cued up with Shobha Gurtu's yearning voice. The 70 year old matron reminds us where the class exists in this purely classical moment of a simple love song, sung over santoor, harmonium, tabla, and ghungroo bells. "Greetings" pits Zakir's fleet fingers against Trilok's whirling sticks. Further examples of fusion abound on this disc, but it's the quieter moments where Remembrance truly shines and exemplifies the theme of the project.