RHYTHM being an essential part of any musical piece, it is almost mandatory to have a percussion accompaniment during a performance. We are so conditioned to seeing a tabla player accompanying a sitar or sarod recital in the typical setup of an Indian classical concert that when faced with the individual prowess of a rhythm instrument, we are surprised.
In a tribute concert to Qureshi Alla Rakha Khan aka Alla Rakha (who accompanied Pt Ravi Shankar in a host of concerts), a great exponent of the tabla, it was the percussion that took centre stage, while the sitars and sarangis played in the background. The concert, titled "Journey Continues", held on Tuesday at Nehru Centre, Worli, saw some of the finest practitioners of percussion — tabla player Fazal Qureshi, son of Alla Rakha and the major force behind the event, Ranjit Barot (drums), Sridhar Parthasarathy (mridangam) and Navin Sharma (dholak), come together to commemorate the 94th birth anniversary of the master. They were ably complemented by Sabir Khan and Dilshad Khan on the sarangi, Ravi Chary on the sitar and Ravi Iyer on the guitar.
The concert was one of those rare events when the musicians played at an unhurried pace, coming up with impromptu musical sketches. The improvisation formed the heart of a live concert.
While the platform offered each musician the opportunity to display individual artistry, it was also a seamless blending of different styles — Hindustani beats of Qureshi's tabla and Sharma's dholak, the Carnatic rhythmic patterns of Parthasarathy's mridangam and the jazz-laced drums of Barot.
Towards the end of the event, a guest artiste from Sweden, Anders Hagberg, demonstrated the playful notes on a native flute, an instrument rarely used nowadays. A basic woodwind instrument used by the shepherd folk in the Swedish mountains, is without finger-holes and is played solely by the intensity of air blown into the instrument.