Out of the Blue!…Small World Encounters

We should have known how magical our trip would be from the first days when we met a special friend out of the blue. It started out with some bad news: A major politician in the history of West Bengal had died. Jyoti Basu had been a leader in the Communist Party (popularly elected) for decades and led the State for a record 23 years–leading 5 consecutive Left front governments. His death was a blow that caused grief throughout the State and an official mourning period of two days. As a result our first concert was canceled.

Instead of the concert we went to a party hosted by one of the main jazz fans in Kolkata (or Calcutta as he would say!). Mr. Ajoy Ray, who has seen and met every jazz musician who’s come through town since the 70’s!–The nicest guy with pictures of so many in his house (Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Ted Curson, etc)… We walk through the door and who’s there? One of the most famous tabla players in the NY scene, Badal Roy…”surprise!” he said.

Badal, Gilad and Me

I should let you know I met Badal in August last year and recorded a CD with him, Lewis Porter (piano) and Karttikeya (percussion) in September. That was an honor for me and it was an honor he came to surprise us while he was visiting his mother in Kolkata. You can catch him performing with some amazing musicians–last month I saw him play with Dave Liebman at Birdland in NYC. He’s played and recorded with John McGlaughlin and Miles Davis (check out “On The Corner!”)…our new CD is called “Darma Jazz” and you can find it on Amazon and CD Baby.

Ajoy (serious Jazz FAN!), Me and Miles!

Here’s a little tease (only 15 seconds-oh well, the camera ran out of batteries!) of us playing “Watermelon Man” with Gilad’s usual living room party-percussion instrument!

It turned out that some of our best friends from back home in Amherst, MA were also visiting their family!

the celebration of  Saraswati Puja, the Goddess of Knowledge and the Arts!

…ah! Maybe this auspicious beginning was the source of our magical tour?

Priest and Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja with her Veena

 

Saraswati represents the “free flow of wisdom and consciousness…the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga, she plays with two of her four hands the music of love and life on a stringed instrument called the veena.” (Subhamoy Das for About.com)

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