Friday, October 23, 2009

Impure Thoughts - Pete Lockett - Selva Ganesh

Hello, Friends!

First of all, today I'd like to share a video clip that up on the Tube from one of the bands in which I had a ton of fun performing in: Impure Thoughts! This sextet, led by the extraordinary pianist, Michael Wolff, was one of the rare groups that I worked with for an extended length of time in which I never performed on either bongos or congas. In fact, I really can't remember any other band in which I both toured and recorded with that described my participation as strictly a "percussive colorist".

Mike had originally thought of my inclusion in the band as a Tabla player who also used sound effects, but I instead suggested that he use a full-time Tabla drummer and referred him to my friend, the musically-flexible Badal Roy.

The concept that Michael was looking to explore was that of a world-music sound that did not lean towards the Latino concept, as he abhors the role of the Latin pianist who is often relegated to "playing montunos all night." As such, after a series of rehearsals, during which we three got tight with the other members of the band - John B. Williams, on electric up-right bass, Alex Foster on saxes, and trap drummer Victor Jones - I settled on a functional percussive arsenal that featured Shekere, Berimbau, Cuica, Djembe, Timbales, and another 50 or so sound effects. I introduced a Wave Drum (it's a drum synth, built by KORG) during a couple of gigs in NYC, but I believe that Mike and Badal were a bit frightened by the electric amplification of such and I was requested to please remain acoustic. I always did, however, use my K & K contact mics for my Berimbau and Cuica, so that I could project my sound while not being prisoner to a specific stage location.

This composition is called Eritrea, and was inspired by Mike's personal exploration of the music from various areas of northern Africa. It just happens to be the first song that we worked on at our first rehearsal at Euphoria Studios in Manhattan!

Impure Thoughts Clip

Now, it gives me great pleasure to share with you the news about a wonderful drumming book which has recently been released by my friend and colleague, Pete Lockett. The book is, "Indian Rhythms for Drumset". The book presents an in-depth study of the intensely complex musical system of rhythmic cycles which define both the music tradition from northern and southern India.

Pete, whom I met and befriended at a WOMEX conference in Berlin (and, who later, along with his wife Pam - who is also a musician! - visited me in Rio de Janeiro) is one of the premier percussionists of our generation, who happens to be from England! He has certainly paid his dues, subjecting himself to acquiring drum knowledge through the traditional method of apprenticeship to a drum master, for a long period of time. His efforts have handsomely rewarded him with vast profound knowledge and impeccable technique on both the Tablas and the Kanjira, the major classical drums of northern and southern India.

Indian Rhythms for Drumset

Rather than a book by a trap drummer who has "checked out" Indian drumming and attempted to graft some of the exotic swing beats to the traps, Pete has absorbed the true essence of Hindustani and Carnatic culture, becoming a master Konnakol reciter, as well! And, for those of you who are not familiar with this term - Konnakol is the art of reciting the Indian rhythmic cycles / rhythms, using the traditional onomatopoeic syllables! In India, this is a respected discipline in and of itself and many times one can enjoy a Konnakol reciter performing on the stage alongside the musicians in a Carnatic music concert. The accompanying CD is chock-full of vocal and sonic illustrations of all of the transcribed rhythmic examples covered in the book.

Congratulations, Pete, on a seriously fine workbook which will prove a valuable addition to all drummers and percussionists!

And now....... MORE DRUMS!

Here's a clip of a smokin' Kanjira drummer by the name of Selva Ganesh, who happens to be the son of the greatest Ghatam player, T. H. Vinayakram. You'll see an example of some Konnakol singing, as well as Selva playing a traditional Monitor Lizard-skin Kanjira.

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