Mesmerizing jugal bandi by talented artists

Ustad Shahid Parvez
Ustad Shahid Parvez

CHICAGO: Two living legends of Hindustani classical music mesmerized a deeply appreciative diverse audience with an incredible musical performance at the Saturday evening concert organized by Spandan at Guerin College Prep High School in River Grove, a northwest suburb of Chicago.

Ustad Shahid Parvez (sitar) and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee (tabla) played together with truly astounding joy and creativity for several hours. The concert featured full elaboration of raags (melody forms) Yaman, Sohini in numerous taals (rhythmic cycles), followed by a beautiful dhun (song) in raag Mishra Khamaj.
From the opening notes of the Yaman alap (free-form melody to introduce the raag), Ustad Parvez’ sitar mastery was immediately apparent. His ability to bend the main string (meend) and create lengthy beautiful musical passages consisting of multiple notes from one strike of the string was simply breathtaking. As he developed the raag into the jod (intro of rhythmic pulse) and jhalla (climactic rhythmic passages), his rhythmic mastery and superhuman speed became apparent.

As Ustad Parvez began playing each gat (fixed composition), Pandit Chatterjee would enter on tabla, playing with powerful vigor and sounding like thunder and alternately with delicate subtlety reflecting his depth and mastery. As the performance unfolded, each took turns improvising complex passages, while always remaining true to the raag and the taal and returning to sum (first beat of the taal cycle) with amazing accuracy.

As the performance unfolded, the two masters seemed to delight in supporting and then challenging one another to create increasing elaborate and lengthy musical passages. After some time, the two maestros played jhala together, taking their interplay and creativity to a rarely heard intensity. Their delight was apparent throughout, as was that of the audience, who repeatedly share their enthusiastic appreciation.
Yaman, the well known evening raag, was the opening piece, followed by Sohini, a late night raag, that is especially difficult to bring to life, after a brief intermission. The Mishra Khamaj dhun was like a rich sweet dessert after the rich depth of the first two performances. It was remarkable to see these two musicians, who have devoted their lives to this music, engage each other so intensely. Their music is a transcendental language and their joy in performing together was a true delight to witness.

Bhabani Das & Madhu Patel

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