The Legend of Piya Bavari
Ever heard music that made you go, "Now that's what I'm talking about". Had the privilege of experiencing it live at a private listening party, entitled "The Legend of Piya Bavari", held at a desi baron's ridiculously lavish mansion in Watchung, NJ (ridiculous enough to have a private auditorium with stage/sound/lights).
The performers were Abhijit Pohankar and his father, Hindustani classical exponent, Pt. Ajay Pohankar. If you recall, the duo gave the world, one of my favorite all time tracks, "Piya Bavari", which was picked by Challe/Visan for Buddha Bar's Chillout in Paris Vol. VI. The performance also had a percussionist (drums/table/mridangam), acoustic guitars, saxophone, flute and Abhijit on the keyboards. The objective of the performance was to seamlessly blend Indian classical music with a new age world music feel, to make it more palatable to our generation.
To put it simply, it was brilliant. The concept and the conviction, and of course, the execution. After the performance, the father-son duo also gave a few of us a private unplugged session in the houses' piano room, with Abhijit on a grand Steinway. Songs like "Ka Karoon Sajni" and "Piya Bavari", along with several other thumris, were performed. Styles like qawwali and love ballads were interspersed delicately, while wholly maintaining the identity of the Indian classical foundation. In more simple words - they were not "remixing" classical music. This was not a sample alaap looping in the background, while rapsters slur on about 'getting it on tonight'. The music was truly enhancing and amplifying the principles of the song. And it is the sincerity of the attempt that makes it all the more beautiful.
The part that took my breath away - was the Begum Akhtar sequence. Its always interesting to hear a hardcore classical maestro singing a ghazal, because one would think that its almost blasphemous. But when you have such a mindblowing composition like "Ae Mohabbat Tere Anjaam Pe Rona Aaya" with the legendary lyrics of Shakeel Badayuni, even maestros can make an exception. With light piano instrumentation in the background, Pt. Ajay Pohankar began this track with a little bit of another Begum Akhtar track, "Mere Humnafas Mere Humnava, Mujhe Dost Banke Daghaa Na De", which was in the same raag. And the rest was pure mesmerizing magic.
Look out for their upcoming works. This is the stuff legends are made of.