Debashish Bhattacharya: Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide-Guitar Odyssey

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Debashish Bhattacharya: <em>Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide-Guitar Odyssey</em>

A dip in the River Ganges with an Indian slide-guitar master?

Anyone looking for a primer on authentic Indian raga—with its bendy, atmospheric slide guitars and gentle tabla beats—would be well served by the latest album from this award-winning master musician. On this, his follow-up to Calcutta Slide-Guitar, Vol. 3, Bhattacharya takes the listener on a tour of his home city, its mornings and its prayers through the sounds of a small slide ukulele, an Indian harp and an ancient one-stringed instrument called the ektara. A casual listener might write off this album as just more background music for meditation and hoity-toity spas. But a deeper listen will reveal what makes the songs so accessible to Western ears: hints of blues, Afro-Andalusian rhythms and a Hawaiian flavor. The latter comes courtesy of the late legend Tao Moe, who visited Calcutta in the late 1920s with his steel guitar, kicking off a national trend that found its way into the Bhattacharya family.

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