The late T.R. Mahalingam (known as "Mali" to his fans) was pretty much singlehandedly responsible for the elevation of the bamboo flute, previously considered a mere folk instrument, to the status of a classical instrument in India's Carnatic tradition. He introduced playing techniques and physical modifications to the flute that made it possible to play with greater flexibility and subtlety, thus bringing the instrument closer to the Carnatic ideal of vocal imitation. This two-disc set brings back to market two classic Mahalingam recordings from 1969 and 1970, and find him accompanied by multiple (unfortunately unidentified) percussionists and a tamboura player (at various times you'll hear tabla and mridingam, and sometimes both at once). Those unused to classical Indian music may find Mali;s tone a bit thin and shrill, but listen more closely and you'll hear a thousand subtleties of timbre and shading, as well as microscopically complicated melodic ornaments and articulations. Whether he's playing arrangements of 15th century devotional songs, composite ragamalikas, or endlessly elaborated folk melodies, Mali imbues every note he plays with passion, intensity, and sublime grace. This is a gorgeous set, and a long-overdue reissue.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2