Jethro Tull looks forward to weeklong India tour with Anoushka Shankar

November 16th, 2008 - 1:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) As the mercury dips in the capital, musical lovers here will find plenty to warm up to when popular British rock group Jethro Tull performs Nov 30 with sitar player Anoushka Shankar in a jugalbandi as part of a weeklong India tour. Apart from the concert at Pragati Maidan Nov 30, the band will travel to Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad as part of the tour sponsored by 100 Piper’s Pure Music.

Jethro Tull, formed in 1967-68, is known for its distinctive vocal style and the lead flute work of frontman Ian Anderson, who says he often includes Indian notes into his music.

“I am no stranger to India. I have visited the country at least five times, though this is the first time I am playing with Pandit Ravi Shankar’s daughter,” Anderson, who is also the band’s spokesperson, told IANS over telephone from London.

The six-member band, which started off with playing blues-rock with an experimental flavour, later incorporated elements of western classical, folk and ethnic tunes, jazz and art rock in its repertoire.

Anderson, who has performed with Indian flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, borrows from Indian music. He has written some special scores for the upcoming concert, which is a fusion of Celtic, popular western music and traditional classical music.

“I am looking forward to the concert because Anoushka is a rare woman in a world that is traditionally dominated by males. Indian classical musicians are mostly men. I would rather gaze fondly into Anoushka’s eyes than into Chaurasia’s eyes,” Anderson said.

The musician said he was more comfortable performing with women than with men because he had a “feminine side to him”.

Anderson is currently recording a pilot DVD with some of the tracks for the concert so that he can send it to Anoushka to tune in. “She needs to practise too before the concert,” he said.

Anderson put together his first band in Blackpool in Britain in 1963 known as the Blades. In 1966, it developed into a seven-piece soul outfit called the John Evan Band- and later into Jethro Tull. The band’s signature album “Aqualung” was released in 1971 - in which Anderson voiced strong opinion about music and society.

Why did Jethro Tull’s lead musician take to the Indian flute? Anderson has an interesting anecdote to narrate his switch to flute from the guitar, which he had been playing since his teens.

“In 1966, I heard Eric Clapton play his guitar and I realised that he was far ahead of the rest of us. I had to do something different to stand out,” he recalled.

Endowed with a natural flair for music, Anderson picked up the flute and learnt to play the instrument by listening to flautists. “I have been a flautist for the last 20 years,” he said.

Anderson, an acoustic musician, is fond of composer A.R. Rehman. “I admire his skills. He uses technology to the maximum effect,” he said.

The band has a busy itinerary in 2009. In the first half, it will be performing in open-air ampitheatres across eastern Europe and in the second, Anderson will rock solo.

The rocker has a message for the Indian GenNext musicians. “Stop copying MTV. Put away that video, pick up an instrument and do your own music.”

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