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World Music CD Reviews South Asia


By Robert Kaye
Published June 27, 2006


The quartet Chakra consists of maestros from both North and South India, who combine influences from the Hindustani and Karnatic systems of classical music. The result is a robust display of musicianship, forged by violin and sarod, accompanied by both tabla and mridangam. Not surprisingly, when musicians of such caliber as those in Chakra join forces, the sounds produced are spectacular. The two melodic soloists, Tejendra Majumdar (sarod) and Dr. Mysore Manjunath (violin), are adept at expressing their respective traditions, yet find common ground in flights of fancy and finesse during their jugalbandi (duet). By the time the two percussionists enter into the creative fray, the visceral power of the ensemble is totally captivating. The quartet even takes on the challenging Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi, recorded by 10-string, double-neck violinist L. Shankar over 20 years ago. Its final segment includes a breathtaking seven-minute tour-de-force by Subhankar Banerjee on tabla and Arjun Kumar on mridangam. Anyone who’s already a fan of the Indian classical tradition, or wants to begin exploring its numerous nuances, will find this album a fine entry point into its wonders.