Various Artists

Vintage Music from India: Early Twentieth-Century Classical & Light-Classical Music

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Not exclusively a Hindustani compilation since seven of its 24 tracks are Carnatic but a remarkable collection of Hindustani music nevertheless. Writer Peter Manuel's selection of material whets the appetite for more. It captures a time before records and radio set in train a homogenization of India's musical styles. Vintage Music from India features selections from the courtesan-singer or tawaif Janki Bai from Allahabad dated circa 1906-1908, two qawwali acts called Pearu Qawwal and Kaloo Qawwal recorded in the late '20s, the exceptional tawaif Gauhar Jan from Calcutta from around 1912, and thumri and khyal from Narayanrao Vyas from the late '20s. The Carnatic selections include the nagaswaram player V. Kandaswamy, the flautist Nagaraja Rao, and a character mysteriously called Venu (flute). For its historical insights and the musicality of Gauhar Jan alone this volume is worth seeking out -- an old critical cliché but accurate nevertheless in the case of Vintage Music from India.

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