One of the many forms of traditional dancing that has existed in India for centuries, Orissi dancing is known for the sculpture-like poses of female dancers. Orissi, so-named because it originated in the state of Orissa in eastern India, was originally a product of Hinduism, Orissi dancers were young women who danced in temples to honor Hindu deities. But as time went on, more and more Orisssi dancing took place outside of temples, and the art form came to be appreciated by non-Hindus. Today, an Orissi dancer might be a devout Hindu herself, but someone who enjoys watching her perform could be a practicing Lutheran, Muslim, Catholic, or Jew. Recorded in Tokyo on June 9, 1986, this album contains the type of music that accompanies Orissi dancing. But one doesn't have to be watching an Orissi dancer to enjoy Orissi music, which combines Carnatic or South Indian elements with traces of Bengali music. (Bengal is on Orissa's northern border). The primary vocalist on this CD is Manjula Mathur, a woman whose tranquil, hypnotic singing is accompanied by her own harmonium playing as well as the bansuri flute of Sudarshan Das, the violin of Bhubaneshwari Misra, the pakhawaj drums of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and the manjira gong of Kumkuma Lal. The lyrics that Mathur embraces on "Yami He....," "Dashaavatara," and "Yahi Madhava" are taken from the Gita Govinda, one of the Hindu scriptures -- "Dashaavatara," in fact, describes the ten incarnations of the deity Vishnu. One of the many enjoyable Indian recordings that came from the JVC World Sounds series, Orissi Dance Music offers liner notes in both English and Japanese.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson