MAHIMA: Indian Hindustani Slide Guitarist Review - fROOTS
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CD Review: MAHIMA
Mahima - Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman
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fROOTS
July 2003

Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman: Mahima

By IAN ANDERSON



Years ago, long before 'world music,' there were certain records that we slide guitar fans used to enjoy putting on the player when fellow aficionados came to call, just to see jaws hit the floor. One would be anything involving Indian slide master Brijbushan Kabra, most likely CALL OF THE VALLEY, and when our audience had barely recovered we'd follow it with one of those early Hawaiian masterpieces, maybe Jim & Bob's version of HOME ON THE RANGE - at which the visiting jaw would enter the flat below. Well, now pupils of both schools are included on one CD, more than literally: Bhattacharya studied with Kabra, who in turn had been taught by an Indian player, who had learned from Bob's Hawaiian guitar guru, Tau Moe, back in the 1920s. Small world, much turning.

In case you think this is just the most recent on the Brozman global duet trail, in fact this is their second CD with younger brother Subhashis on tablas - though its predecessor, 1998's SUNRISE (Sagarika) is now as rare as the proverbial hen's teeth. The obvious difference this time is added vocals on four pieces from sister Sutapa Bhattacharya, herself a best-selling artist in her own right in India, adding the final pleasure to an already increased variety. But if the standard of playing on the first album was awesome, this one has the benefit of hindsight and growth in both affinity and ability, for these are musicians who surely never stop growing and learning. Many tracks are very complex, well worked out and rehearsed compositions - probably more so than on any of Brozman's other duet records. The speed and ferocity of Debashish's playing on tracks like "Bana Mali" will obviously be immediate attention grabbers, but throughout it's the blend, the combined musicality that's the key. Brozman is often playing complex rhythm parts on his baritone guitars, while Subhashis both anchors and decorates with the percussion. There's a lot of music and listening in here, not all instant, but eventually immensely satisfying. A major work. It's just a shame that the booklet is virtually unreadable - miniscule type surrounded by acres of blank space in the name of Art. Shame the designer doesn't understand function the way the musicians clearly do.



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