Brij Bhushan Kabra

Sitar-Guitar Duet

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This meeting of slide guitarist Brij Bhushan Kabra and Rais Khan claims to be the first recorded guitar-sitar duet, and it's a masterpiece. Side one has them performing "Raga Bhairavi" with tabla and tamboura accompaniment. There is no alap to speak of; the players start out in a lively dialogue. Kabra and Khan work extremely well together, trading and elaborating phrases back and forth, but one of the most interesting things is hearing them comp behind each other, using multiple string techniques that aren't normally heard in solo performances. Side two has them moving away from a strict raga and into thematic territory, much like another of Kabra's excellent recordings, Call of the Valley, where the movements depict dusk to dawn in the Kashmir Valley. On this recording, "The Lover's Call" tells the story of two lovers and their longing for each other, with the guitar and sitar serving as their voices. Here, rather than simply tabla, a fairly large percussion ensemble is employed, even incorporating bongos, shakers, and tambourine, giving the piece a very distinct sound (Kabra uses nonstandard percussion on a number of his recordings). Again, the phrasing and articulation are impeccable as the players converse back and forth. Sitar-Guitar Duet makes a great introduction to Indian music.

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