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shakti means "creative intelligence, beauty & power." it's also the name of perhaps the greatest music ensemble ever assembled. british musical genius John McLaughlin, mastermind of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, put together this project with 3 brilliant Indian musicians to creative this east meets west type of group. john had a special acoustic guitar with scalloped neck/frets built for the music.
the original quartet featured Ravi Shankar's nephew, L. Shankar on violin and the mind blowing rhythm section of percussion bliss - Zakir Hussain on tabla (greatest tabla player and musician on the planet) and T.H. Vinayakram (Vikku) on ghatam (clay pot). it's the most unique, influential and inspiring music possible.
their 1st record was recorded at a college in the US, in 1975. the album is fantastic, except for the students who ruin it by clapping out of time. oy and vey.
the *amazing* song here, is the lead track on the 2nd album, recorded a year later. the album title "A Handful Of Beauty", is quite apropos. more like, "many lifetimes of beautiful music..."
i was blown away when i first heard the vocalise patterns in the beginning. imagine my surprise when i learned that Zakir & Vikku were from different parts of India and spoke completely different languages, let alone rhythmic syllables. the vocalization of these rhythmic syllables, is called "konnakol." fantastic stuff, that is incredibly difficult to master. i transcribed the whole intro vocal exchange and used to sing both parts and try to teach it to drummer friends, so we can do it as a duet.
when you hear unison percussion "breaks," they are usually in cycles of "3" and are based on complex rhythmic systems, called "tihai." i've studied these concepts for years, bastardize them with my western mind, combine them with other advanced rhythms i study and apply them to my drumset. i've included many of these aspects within my marimba compositions, as well.
shakti, put out one more studio album in '77. this one was more 'polished', but still had some incredible moments. fast forward 20 years, and the group was reformed, under the moniker "Remember Shakti".
3 live albums were released from concerts between 1997-2000. McLaughlin & Zakir were involved with all of the recordings. many new guests were a part of these beyond brilliant albums, including Vikku's son Salvaganesh, who has become the face of modern Indian master "rhythmatists." there is video footage of this monumental group, as well.
i have learned a lifetime of music from these albums and been inspired beyond description by this incredible band. if you're interested in checking out more tradition Indian Classical music, please allow me to direct to you Ravi Shankar's "The Sounds of India" on Columbia Records. cheap and easy to find, it directs your listening via words, text & music and is a perfect introduction to Indian music.
 Great preaching, thelarmis. Shakti were incredible. For those who havn't seen it, go to YouTube and find some grainy live footage from 1973. 20+ minute track called "Joy" (first song on their first album I believe?). The interplay between Vikku and McLaughlin is just insane..seriously, you will never have seen anything like it. For a sports analogy, the level of musicianship is MJ & Bird playing horse level. THAT good!
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