Moving my blog over to

Dear friends,

With the recent update of my website, I now have the ability to integrate the blog directly into the website, so that is what I am doing; it just makes sense. I will no longer be posting updates here. Thank you to all of you for your interest in my musical adventures. Please click along to my website for the continuation of this blog in the future! If you would like to update your RSS subscription, this is the new RSS URL:

I hope to see you over at!


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Soul of Ganges

If I haven't been posting on a regular basis, it's because Sudeshna Maulik and I have been working extremely hard in organizing Soul of Ganges. This was the public launch of our kathak and tabla school, Sangeet Kala Kendra. We have been offering weekly classes at the local Bharat Bhavan for some time now, however we had yet to present our first performance under the banner of the school.

Presented in collaboration with the Kabir Cultural Centre, Soul of Ganges featured a performance by the great sitar maestro, Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, accompanied by the wonderful Subhajyoti Guha on tabla. The evening opened with Sudeshna's kathak dance performance, accompanied by myself on tabla and Raja Bhattacharya performing lehra on sarod.

We opened with a segment in Dhammar Taal (14 beat cycle), followed by madhya and drut Teentaal (16 beat cycle). As the theme was 'Soul of Ganges', Sudeshna demonstrated aspects of flowing water, as well as depictions of Shiva and Parvati.

After an intermission for chai and samosas, Ustad Shahid Parvez took to the stage and blew everyone away with his virtuosity and depth. We are extremely grateful to Ustadji and Subhajyoti for coming to perform for this special occasion in Montreal.

It was great to see that so many of the Indian music and dance lovers in Montreal came out to support our launch. We couldn't be more pleased with the turnout - the Maison de la culture Frontenac was filled to capacity; we unfortunately had to turn people away. We'll have to book a bigger hall for our next event!

I just did a quick online search, and wow! - someone has already posted a blog and videos. Click here to read Bettina Forget's take on the evening. And here is her YouTube videoclip of our performance:

(Now the world can hear me count in Hindi. Oh boy...)

And a clip of Ustadji:


Special thanks to Arif Ali Khan from the Kabir Cultural Centre for the photos!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Live at Zazen with Jonathan Voyer

This past Saturday, I performed with santoor player Jonathan Voyer, as part of the Zazen Live series. My aim with this series is to promote Indian classical music in an intimate setting. All performances are acoustic.

Jonathan Voyer is a disciple of santoor maestro, Pandit Satish Vyas. We opened with Raag Dhani - first an alap, then a gat jhaptaal (10-beat cycle), followed by a gat in drut teentaal (16-beat cycle).

After a short intermission (ie: samosa break), we continued with Raag Yaman - alap, gat in rupaktaal (7-beat cycle), and ending with a gats in madhya and drut teentaal.

I was really happy with the audience turnout for this concert - we were completely sold out. As always, the audience was really attentive. Jonathan performed many interesting (and challenging) rhythmic variations, with much depth and nuance. Looking forward to future performances together!

A big thanks to Jennifer at Zazen, for her continued support of Indian classical music and dance.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Performance with Suns of Arqa

This past weekend, I was invited to perform with the legendary group from the UK, Suns of Arqa. Led by Wadada, their music combines influences from Indian classical music, dub/reggae, and electronica. The concert took place at the Bobards in Montreal, as part of the Festival Musique Multi-Montreal. Apparently, the group hasn't played in a venue this small in about 20 years. So, let's just say that the place was packed!

Local DJ, Guapo put together an excellent roster of musicians for the show:

Wadada : sitar, citern, guitar, harmonica
Angel-Eye : vocals
Guapo : Guitar, electronic dub FX
Geeta Sparkle : vocals

Jahsun : drumset
Bass One: bass

Aditya Verma : sarod

We performed a mix of old and new tunes from the Suns of Arqa repertoire. I also accompanied Wadada on sitar, and Aditya on sarod for a couple of traditionally-inspired pieces.

Suns of Arqa with Aditya Verma on sarod.

Bandleader, Wadada on sitar.

I was especially impressed and inspired by Jahsun and Bass One ... really great rhythm section. Very creative, and tight! This was definitely a different kind of gig for me, as I haven't played anything remotely like this since perhaps Ramasutra back in 1999-2001. While trying to find a website for Ramasutra, I came across this video. Here it is, for old-time's sake:

On a completely separate note, in the category of better late than never, here are some photos from my tabla workshop at the University of Western Ontario that I gave at the end of February. Thanks to Prof. Jill Ball for these!

Enthusiastically explaining something related to playing the dahina.

With composer, Paul Frehner.
Notice my great drawing of India on the blackboard? :)

People really love tabla at UWO!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Tabla on 'Des kiwis et des hommes'

Last week, I was invited to be a guest on Des Kiwis et des Hommes, a morning talk show on Radio Canada's television network (the French division of the CBC). The show is broadcast live from Montreal's Jean-Talon market from 9am to 10:30am on weekdays during spring/summer.

We spoke about tabla and Indian culture, and I also got to play a little bit.

The show is now available online (click here). To see the tabla segment, skip to the 6th chapter. I am not sure if this will play outside of Canada, due to copyright, licensing, etc...

Many thanks to the hosts, Francis Reddy and Boucar Diouf, and the amazing crew. A lot goes on behind the scenes for a live show like this, and everything was running like a well-oiled machine!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Upcoming Tabla Events in Montreal

Wow! There are many tabla-related performances coming up in the next few weeks. Here's a quick summary for those of you in the Montreal area.

On Saturday, April 17, I have been invited to perform with the Suns of Arqa, the legendary pioneers of dub, combining influences from Indian classical music, reggae, and electronica. Sarod maestro Aditya Verma will also be performing. Here is a recent article about the event from the Montreal Mirror. April 17 at 10pm, Suns of Arqa, presented by the Festival Musique Multi-Montreal, taking place at the Bobards, 4328 Saint-Laurent.

Also taking place earlier the same day, at 8pm, tabla player Anurada Pal will present her all-women Indian percussion show, Stree Shakti at the Outremont Theatre on Bernard.

On Friday, April 23, I will be accompanying talented santoor player, Jonathan Voyer, as part of the Zazen Live series. He is a disciple of the great Pt. Satish Vyas. Zazen live celebrates the richness of Indian classical music, presented without amplification in a beautiful acoustic space. The concert starts at 8pm at Zazen, 209 St-Paul West, 3rd floor, in Old Montreal. Phone 514-287-1772 to make your reservations. Space is limited!

And last, but definitely not least, on May 15, my newly formed music school, Sangeet Kala Kendra in collaboration with the Kabir Cultural Centre, will be presenting Soul of Ganges, featuring performances by special guests Pandit Kushal Das (sitar) and Pandit Kumar Bose (tabla). The evening will open with a kathak dance recital by Sudeshna Maulik, accompanied by myself on tabla and Raja Bhattacharya on sarod.

Soul of Ganges
Saturday, May 15 at 7:30pm
Maison de la culture Frontenac
2550, rue Ontario Est

This will be a very special performance. Not to be missed! Tickets can also be purchased online here:

Register for Sangeet Kala Kendra in collaboration with the Kabir Cultural Centre proudly presents a Montreal first  Soul of Ganges  in Montreal, Quebec  on Eventbrite

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Kathak in Marlboro, Vermont

From March 5 through 7, I was in residence at Marlboro College (Marlboro, Vermont), along with cellist Jake Charkey and kathak dancer Sudeshna Maulik. We were invited to teach and perform for the faculties of music and dance by Prof. Stan Charkey.

On March 5, Jake and I gave an Indian music workshop for Prof. Charkey's world music class. The class had previously learned a bit about Carnatic music, so we started by talking about some of the similarities and differences between Carnatic (South Indian) and Hindustani (North Indian) classical music. We then got into a discussion of the tabla and taal, and the cello and raag. Jake demonstrated a few different ragas, and I had the class clapping teentaal and rupaktaal. I performed a short solo in rupak, and demonstrated a few tihais.

Later that day, Jake and I accompanied Sudeshna for her dance workshop. There was quite a large turnout, mostly made up of ballet and contemporary dancers. Sudeshna pushed the students hard and they learned quite a lot in the 90 minutes we had together!

On March 6, Jake and I gave some private lessons to interested students. One of the students had previously been to Benares and studied tabla for a few weeks there.

On March 7, we performed in concert for a very enthusiastic audience. First, Jake performed cello solo, opening with a piece in Raag Durga. Alap and gat in jhaptaal (10 beats). I then performed tabla solo in teentaal, vilambit and madhya. After a short pause, we continued with the kathak dance segment, accompanying Sudeshna through vilambit, madhya, and drut teentaal. As always, Sudeshna danced with great energy, precision, and flair and the audience responded with much applause throughout the performance.

Many thanks to the Charkey family for hosting us during our residency. We stayed at their place in Brattleboro. Brattleboro is a friendly, picturesque town, with a large artist community. I hope to return again in the near future!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Attar Project CD Launch

The last week of February was a busy time for me. 4 concerts and 2 workshops in four days! These activities were centered around the launch of the Attar Project's third CD, The Road Ahead.

The Attar Project is the project of violinist Parmela Attariwala. "Initially conceived as a vehicle to integrate the eclectic strands of Attariwala’s own musical background, the Attar Project engages artists across musical genres and artistic practices in virtuosic collaborations that maintain the essence of each while challenging the boundaries between them. Neither a fixed ensemble nor an “ad hoc” one, the Attar Project has unfolded as a series of dedicated partnerships, resulting in a body of work that, while beyond common definition, unfailingly awakens the eye and ear." This album features new music for violin and tabla by Canadian composers.

the Attar Project - The Road Ahead
Parmela Attariwala, violin and viola
Shawn Mativetsky, tabla and percussion
Oracle, by Paul Frehner
Sudoku, by Andrew Staniland
The Road Ahead... is Longer than the Trail Left Behind, by Nicole Rampersaud
The Melody of Rhythm, by Meiro Stamm
Never the Twain Shall Meet, by Christien Ledroit

The first of the CD launch activities took place at the Musideum in Toronto on February 24. This is a music / instrument store with an eclectic collection of instruments on display and for sale. A really fascinating place! They had a wide array of percussion, string instruments, winds, and electronic instruments from around the world. They even had an old glass harmonica on display. We performed a few selections from the new CD to a small, but appreciative audience.

Performing at the Musideum, Toronto.

Chatting with composer Meiro Stamm.

The Attar Project at the Musideum.

The next day, February 25, Parmela and I were on a train to London (Ontario) to give workshops at the University of Western Ontario. I gave a tabla workshop for the percussion students, and another for the composition students, while Parmela gave a workshop on improvisation. The next day, we performed for the UWO noon-hour concert series. Many thanks to composer Paul Frehner for inviting us. It was a great couple of days. I only wish that I had more time to stay and see more of "the other" London.

A couple of hours later, we were back on a train for another performance that same evening at Toronto's C'est What. C'est What is not our usual type of venue - it's a microbrewery pub. But, they have a music series and are trying to branch out into other, more adventurous styles of music. It was fun to be able to watch the Olympic women's gold medal curling match (though Canada lost, and got silver) just before the performance.

Performing at C'est What, Toronto.

The last of the Toronto CD launch concerts was at the Tranzac. I hadn't heard of this place before, but it seems to be a big part of the local music scene. They have a few rooms, booked all day long, with musical performances representing practically every genre imaginable. We played in a smaller room, up close and personal with the audience. We got a really enthusiastic response! Maybe it was the Tranzac vibe, or the fact that the Tranzac audiences are very open in their musical tastes.

Performing at the Tranzac, Toronto.

In all of the performances, we played selections from the new CD, plus Robert Rosen's now classic LA, and a tabla solo in rupak taal (7 beats). I have typically chosen to perform tabla solo in teentaal (16 beats), but I decided that it was time for a change! I'm really liking the feel of rupak for solos, and will surely continue to explore this further.

All in all, a great week, and a great way to launch the new CD! The CD should soon be available on CDBaby, iTunes, etc. It's also available directly from Parmela or myself, and independent music stores in Toronto.