Viewed as one of the finest sitar players of his generation, Purbayan Chatterjee has often bridged diverse musical worlds in his music and ‘Shanmukhapriya – The Mystic’ is another example of his ability to unite divergent soundscapes, joined by global masters like acclaimed drummer Antonio Sanchez, Snarky Puppy bassist Michael League and percussionist and kanjira master Selvaganesh.
In “Shanmukhapriya – The Mystic”, sung by Shankar Mahadevan, we hear an exploration of the devotional element of Carnatic music in a post-modern Latin jazz soundscape, steered by the production and keyboards of Nakul Chugh, the mandolin mastery of U. Rajesh, the guitar of Indonesian native Aleif Hamdan and the subtle textural effect of the strings (cellist Emanuel Keller, violist Anna Stromer, violinist Bengisu Gökçe).
Based on a Carnatic ragam (56th Melakarta ragam) of the same name, and considered to have that special power to evoke divinity, Chatterjee chose the single for the same reason to open the seven-track album.
With “Shanmukhapriya – the Mystic” Purbayan Chatterjee and his all star cast of collaborators have presented classic material in an inspirational and contemporary way and for all kinds of listeners, the ones who are new to this kind of stuff or the ones who can’t get enough of it. This track serves as both a great start of a rewarding musical journey, as well as a great stop on it.
Speaking on the song, Purbayan Chatterjee said: “This piece has a chant-like quality to it and many of its language-less chorus lines are like sacred chants. I wanted to start this album on this note,” he explained, adding, “It’s like the entire universe was created out of the hum of the ‘music of the spheres’. This album is a quest for a common musical consciousness which strings together many musical sensibilities into one pulse.”
“Shanmukhapriya – The Mystic” is the lead single for the upcoming album, “Unbounded — Abaad”. The album is releasing on September 10th and features the who’s who of classical music in India like Chatterjee, tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, mandolin master U. Rajesh; and global names like banjo pioneer Béla Fleck; keyboardist Jordan Rudess of the progressive metal band Dream Theater; longtime Pat Metheny drummer and Birdman composer Antonio Sanchez; Snarky Puppy bassist and founder Michael League; and acclaimed jazz clarinetist Anat Cohen – just to name a few. So stay tuned for that.
Verdict: Mystical goodness.