Some of world's greatest; ALAN NICHOL rounds up what's happening on the roots music scene.Byline: ALAN NICHOL
THIS week's chosen artists are truly international in terms of origin and appeal. Percussion, guitar, Americana and some solid British traditional music are all represented by the illustrious and eclectic visitors.
Starting at the back end of the week, the Sage plays host to the phenomenal skills of the Indian percussionist, Zakir Hussain, next Wednesday.
The world-famous tabla-player was last here with guitarist John McLaughlin's group, Remember Shakti, two or three years ago when he made a huge impression on the audience. Zakir - arguably one of the greatest tabla-players ever - was a child prodigy, which is not surprising really, as his father was the revered Indian percussionist, Ustad Allah Rakah, who was, for 30 years, the tabla-player for Ravi Shankar. In his late teens, Zakir, left India and his classical training for America.
Once there, he was involved in music across the widest possible spectrum but he did eventually succeed his father as Ravi's instrumental partner. He has since played with symphony orchestras and with some of the world's most recognisable musicians.
Apart from Ravi Shankar, he has worked with George Harrison, Van Morrison, Jack Bruce and Billy Cobham and a long list of others. Zakir also worked with the Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, who sought him out for specific knowledge of Indian percussion techniques.
He won a Grammy in 1992 for his Planet Drum album and was the recipient of the USA's National Heritage Fellowship. Although accolades from his adopted country were high praise, he also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award This article or section recently underwent a major revision or rewrite and needs further review. You can help!
The Sangeet Natak Akademi Award is given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi - India's apex body for performing arts. - one of the youngest musicians ever to be honoured - in his native India and awarded by the Prime Minister, no less! He has also been a visiting professor at Princeton University and his music was used for the Vietnam war Vietnam War, conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. feature film Apocalypse Now.
Next Wednesday's show is entitled Zakir Hussain & the Masters of Percussion and he has sitar sitar (sĭtär`), fretted string instrument with a gourdlike body and a long neck, similar to the lute. It has from 3 to 7 gut strings, tuned in fourths or fifths (or both), and a lower course of 12 wire strings that vibrate sympathetically with and sarangi The Sarangi (Hindi : सारंगी) is a bowed string instrument of India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is an important bowed string instrument of India's Hindustani classical music tradition. (a kind of lute lute, musical instrument that has a half-pear-shaped body, a fretted neck, and a variable number of strings, which are plucked with the fingers. The long lute, with its neck much longer than its body, seems to have been older than the short lute, existing very early ) and other percussion instruments in the troupe, which includes dancers.
THE night before that, Tuesday, sees the guitarist Nicolas Meier and his group at the Cluny. Swissborn Meier was also a gifted child musician and he studied at the Fribourg Conservatoire conservatoire
a school of music [French]
Conservatory, Conservatoire a school of advanced studies, usually in one of the fine arts, hence, the students and professors collectively; from the age of 12.
Although he is frequently described as a jazz musician, which is true, he is really much more than that. Often compared to fellow-guitarist Pat Metheny, his work includes elements of Latin, Flamenco, Oriental, rock, classical and metal.
Meier spent a few years in the USA in Boston but now calls London his home. He has assembled a cracking band for this tour - Gilad Atzmon (saxes), Asaf Sirkis (drums) and Tom Mason (bass) - and he is certain to play material from his last album, Silence Talks (Naim Records), which received critical acclaim.
The album, mainly acoustic, contains references to Turkey (his wife is Turkish) and sees Meier play nylon-string guitar and an eleven-string fretless variant called the Godin Glissantar.
STAYING at the Cluny, Monday provides the opportunity to catch the unique Americana act, the Handsome Family.
Husband and wife duo, Brett (music) and Rennie (lyrics) Sparks, are really the Handsome Family but the line-up can vary from two to six musicians. The pair live in Alberquerque, New Mexico and are considered to be the archetypal ar·che·type
1. An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; a prototype: "'Frankenstein' . . . 'Dracula' . . . 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' . . . Americana act. Albums like Through The Trees, Last Days of Wonder and Singing Bones are often cited as essential alt.country recordings but the Sparks see themselves as songwriters plain and simple. From the earliest recordings they did - Odessa and Milk & Scissors - in the 90s, the press have fallen for the dark, gothic tales which use everyday themes and surreal imagery. Alex Martinez aka Freak Flag open.
CHILD PRODIGY - Zakir Hussain and, left, Nicolas Meier