Italian guitarist fuses Indian ragas with jazz, flamenco

February 6th, 2009 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Celebrated Italian guitarist Giuliano Modarelli left Delhiites spellbound with his unique fusion of classical jazz and Mediterranean sounds with traditional Indian music, which he presented at the East Meets West concert here Friday.Modarelli, who has been studying Indian music for the last two years in Kolkata and southern India, collaborated with santoor maestro Sandip Chatterjee, mridangam player N. Shankar and tabla exponent Soumen Sarkar for the concert.

“I connect to Indian music. There is a sense of déjà vu. I learnt about Indian music as a child from the pile of vinyl records of Indian music my parents possessed,” Modarelli told IANS.

A musical duel (jugalbandi) between Shankar and Sarkar complimented the peppy blend of jazz and evening ragas that Modarelli and Chatterjee rustled up.

“The santoor and guitar are two different instruments. They do not gel but the language of music does, especially if the musicians are friends,” Moderalli said.

The collaboration between Chatterjee, Shankar, Sarkar and Moderalli - who has trained under Indian classical gurus Buddhadev Dasgupta and Pratyush Banerjee - is brand new.

“We just managed two rehearsals but the chemistry and quality of percussion music helped,” Moderalli said.

The musician is known for the technical improvisations on his guitar to suit his neo-classical style that incorporates influences as diverse as flamenco, jazz, blues, folk, Arabian sounds and Indian ragaas.

Percussionist Bickram Ghosh, with whom Modarelli is collaborating on crossover movies and fusion albums, told IANS on phone from Kolkata: “Like all new-age guitarist, Giuliano uses a processor on his guitar to enhance the quality of sound. It allows him 150-200 tonal variations.”

Ghosh and Modarelli have recorded two songs for Bollywood film “Diamond Murders”. While one has been sung by Sunidhi Chauhan, the other has been performed by June Banerjee.

The duo has also composed the music for “Little Zizou”, a Mira Nair production directed by Soonie Taraporewala.

Modarelli and Ghosh collaborate for London-based band Sunev, which features Modarelli on the guitar, Ghosh on percussion, Pete Lockett on rhythms, Jesse Bannister on the saxophone and Munir Baziz on the Arabic flute and lyres.

The Italian guitarist also jams with Ghosh for Rhythmscape, a crossover band based in Kolkata, and has composed music for the Britain-based Halle Orchestra-The Spirit of A Soul in support of tabla maestro Zakir Hussian.

“I use three aspects of the Indian classical music - the raaga structure, the alaap structure and the taal - in my western compositions. I also write the scores,” the guitarist said.

After spending the winter in Kolkata, the guitarist is now on his way to Britain to perform with his band Samay, a cross-over outfit featuring Indian musicians. He will be back in India next winter.

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