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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

SHANKAR & GINGGER

By Robert Kaye
Published January 20, 2006

Celestial Body
Mondo Melodia

Shankar is a virtuoso violinist/vocalist of unparalleled ability. His 1980 ECM release, Who’s To Know, and later Phil Collins’ solo debut, Face Value, introduced the unique sound of Shankar’s own invention, the 10-string, stereophonic double neck violin. Shankar’s astounding playing and strong compositional ability have brought him worldwide acclaim. Shankar, along with fellow violinist/vocalist Gingger, are the only musicians who have mastered this instrument that covers the entire range of the string orchestra. Celestial Body often embodies several genres concurrently. For instance, within most of its tracks are Western and Indian classical, new age, jazz and pop elements, all melding together effortlessly.  Joining Shankar and (the Bollywood-like beauty) Gingger is the formidable, innovative percussionist Sivamani, whose rhythmic contributions are an integral element of the album’s success. Yet herein lies one sticking point: at times, portions of some songs go out of their way to be accessible, which seemingly confines these musicians’ collective talents. That observation aside, Celestial Body is, on many parameters, a remarkable album, not the least of which is Shankar and Gingger’s extraordinary musicianship.