ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Grammy winner and five-time Grammy nominee Steve Gorn is creating a new idiom — a music that combines the essence of classical Indian tradition with a contemporary world music sensibility. The strength of this music arises from a virtuoso mastery that generates a vibrant fusion, alive and accessible to western ears. Steve infuses great mastery with a haunting, lyrical sweetness to bring the healing breath of the sacred to our demanding contemporary lives.
Gorn has performed Indian classical music, jazz, and new American music on the bansuri bamboo flute and soprano saxophone in concerts and festivals throughout the world. A disciple of Sri Gour Goswami of Kolkata and Pandit Raghunath Seth of Mumbai, he is well known to audiences in India and the West. He has been praised by critics and leading Indian musicians as one of the few westerners recognized to have captured the subtlety and beauty of Indian music. He has also composed numerous works for theatre, dance, and television, and has recorded and performed with a wide range of artists including Paul Simon, Tony Levin, Jack DeJohnette, Glen Velez, Karl Berger, Alessandra Belloni, Layne Redmond, Simon Shaheen, and Mick Karn.
Steve’s first steps on this path were taken as a young jazz musician studying composition at Penn State. He noticed how John Coltrane and Charles Lloyd had begun to incorporate aspects of Indian music into their playing. Drawn by these sounds, he followed the music east and found himself in Benares, India, in 1969, in a boat on the Ganges with the famous sarangi master, Gopal Misra, listening to his classical raga float out over the water in the evening light. “I suddenly saw how this music went beyond notes, beyond what we think of as music. How it is, in truth, a yoga, a form of meditation, devotion, a form of love.”
Steve then traveled to Kolkata, where he was invited to meet the Bengali bansuri master Sri Gour Goswami.
“We went to Hedwa in North Kolkata, passing through narrow lanes lined with sweet shops, tea stands, and sari merchants. Bells were ringing from small neighborhood temples, and the air was thick and pungent with everything from sandalwood incense to cow dung. We were directed to a doorway that led along a corridor into a small courtyard. A servant motioned to a room on the south end of the courtyard and we entered the stone compound.
“Seated on the floor, in a circle, were six men all dressed in white. In the center of the circle was a robust middle-aged man, his feet tucked under his dhoti, his lips red from the betel-nut he was chewing. A cup of tea was at his side and a harmonium and flute case lay on the floor before him. This was the teacher I had heard so much about.
“I was introduced in Bengali (although I learned later that these men spoke fluent English) and they proceeded to talk about me at length in a language I couldn’t understand. I wanted to play for him and show him what I knew, but they continued to sip their tea, conversing endlessly in Bengali. Finally, they asked me to play a raga for them. I was very nervous by then but managed to play. When I finished, Gour Goswami said, ‘You have a good sense for this music, but you have not been taught properly.’ He then took out his flute and played for me. The tone was deep, warm, and velvety, utterly weightless. The raga unfolded and time stopped. It was breathtaking as the passages came faster and faster, ending in a flourish of cascading sound that reverberated through the stone room. And then it was over and everyone was once again drinking tea. I just sat there, stunned. I looked at him and stuttered, ‘May I come back?’ He smiled and said, ‘Yes.’”
Returning to the United States, Steve continued his study of Indian music with Pt. Raghunath Seth, and brought his elegant bansuri sound to American pop music. His landmark world music recording Asian Journal and the unique Wings and Shadows have become cult favorites. His acclaimed CD Luminous Ragas was named one of the top ten recordings of the year by Los Angeles Reader.
Describing his 1996 performance in Mumbai at the Sangeet Research Academy’s Indian Music and the West Seminar, Chairman Arvind Parikh said, “Steve Gorn’s concert was widely appreciated for its outstanding musicianship… and has won him a host of admirers.”
Indian Classical Music is a supreme art form, highly acclaimed for its sublime aesthetic quality and intricate technique. As an accomplished successor to this musical heritage, vocalist Sanjoy Banerjee has stepped masterfully into this field and with his sonorous voice has enthralled audiences at home and abroad.
Born in a musical family, Sanjoy started showing signs of exceptional talent from a very tender age. He was initiated into music by his aunt, Smt. Basanti Chatterjee, then Smt. Manjulika Dasgupta and later by Sri Ramanuj Dasgupta. For advanced training he studied with the late Pt. Narayan Rao Joshi of Kirana Gharana (a Hindu musical style and lineage particularly concerned with individual notes and intonation) and soon became his favorite disciple.
In 1989 Sanjoy began studies with Pt. A.T. Kanan, a stalwart of Kirana Gharana, and continued learning the intricacies of Indian classical music. In 1995 he joined the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy. Continuing his studies with Pt. Kanan, Sanjoy also started learning music as a scholar via the methods of Guru Shishya Parampara and Sangeet Vidushi Malabika Kanan. Forseeing the latent potential, she acknowledged Sanjoy as a worthy successor of her musical heritage.
Today Sanjoy is a busy artist performing in India as well as in countries like Bangladesh, the UK, Germany, Canada, and the United States as one of the leading young musicians of Kirana Gharana. Sanjoy is also a regular artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan (TV). He has a renowned reputation as a teacher, with students around the world: Bangladesh, Germany, the UK, and the United States. He is a sought-after composer and music director, having worked in several projects in India and the UK with his own group (popularly known as Indian Festival Group).
Sanjoy was a senior guru at the American Academy of Indian Classical Music in New York. At present, he is a guru at his own institution, Kolkata Surumurchhana in Kolkata, and at the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music in New York.
Namami Karmakar, harmonium and vocals, is thestudent of Sanjoy Banerjee. She is regarded as one of the finest vocalists among the younger generation of the Kirana Gharana. She has successfully ranked in the prestigious Dover Lane Competition and performed at major conferences and also on television to great acclaim. The evening will celebrate the great tradition of the guru-shishya parampara (teacher-disciple lineage) of Indian classical music.
Born into a musical family in Kolkata, Samir Chatterjee began his studies of the tabla early with Pt. Bankim Ghosh, Pt. Balaram Mukherjee, Pt. Rathin Dhar, and Mohammad Salim. He studied with Pt. Amalesh Chatterjee starting in 1966 and with Pt. Shyamal Bose in 1984. All of Samir’s teachers have been from the Farrukhabad Gharana school of tabla playing, which he now represents.
Samir appears frequently as a soloist and an accompanist throughout India and abroad. Since 1982 he has been regularly touring the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. All India Radio maintains Samir as an A-rated artist. He can be heard on numerous recordings featured as soloist, accompanying many of India’s greatest musicians, and in collaboration with western musicians of outstanding caliber.
Samir presently lives in New York, where he has become a catalyst in the fusion of Indian and Western music, performing with Pauline Oliveros, Ravi Coltrane, Steve Gorn, Glen Velez, Bobby Sanabria, Ben Verdery, Dance Theater of Harlem, Ethos Percussion Group, Da Capo Chamber Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, and other jazz and avant-garde musicians.
He is a member of jazz trios Sync, with Ned Rothenberg and Jerome Harris, and Satya, with Dave Douglas and Myra Melford. He is a composer and director of Nacho Nacho: Gypsy Storytelling and the Chhandayan World Percussion Ensemble. He performed with Sanjay Mishra on his CD Blue Incantation, which features Jerry Garcia as guest artist. He advises and performs with two major dance projects based in New York.
Samir has been teaching for the last thirty years and many of his students are established performers. He is the founder and director of Chhandayan, an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Indian music and culture by conducting classes and workshops, organizing concerts, maintaining a library, and running a store.