Finally we have a blog up so you can follow us on our adventures. 2011 was a great year for us and has included the release of Yoga Trax (view Octopus Garden blog for more info), lots of gigs, the addition of the talented Lisa Patterson to the mix and a sabbatical in San Francisco to study at the famous Ali Akbar College of Music thanks to funding from the Ontario Arts Council.
Many have asked why San Francisco? Riyaz (a.k.a. practice) is the most important part of playing tabla, so for the past 3 years I have set aside 2 months per year to dedicate to practicing technique and absorbing material given to me by my teachers: maestro Ritesh Das and the renowned exponent of the Lucknow style of playing tabla Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. In 2009 I came to the Bay area (San Francisco), in 2010-2011 I travelled to India and in 2012 I’ve returned to the Bay.
Another important reason for coming to San Francisco is my teacher Swapanji is here and you need to go to the source to receive compositions from the lineage of the Lucknow gharana (school of teaching). In addition to getting new material, I find that the energetic exchange that happens by “sitting” with your teacher is invaluable. Finally, the Bay area is a mecca for North Indian music due to the hippie movement in the 60s – 70s when iconic musicians such as Ravi Shankar (teacher of George Harrison) settled here. Since then musicians thirsty to learn about these teachings have stayed in the area – so there is no loss of people to learn from, practice, and hang out with. I’ve accompanied vocal and instrumental classes at the college lead by Bruce Hamm as well as sitting with Steve Oda. These sessions have been invaluable in terms of my learning. This time Oriana is joining me and will be testing how her chops fare in playing some compositions from the great Ali Akbar Khan in instrumental and vocal classes at the AACM. I’m definitely going to get her to blog about that later.
Off to bed now… but please come back for new entries SOON.