Blending notes



Eliana Burki: Creating waves
Eliana Burki from Switzerland plays the traditional Swiss instrument and belongs to a new wave of Alphorn players who are experimenting with the instrument, trying to extend its purpose beyond a mere symbol of Switzerland. She goes beyond the 12-note range of most players and uses the alphorn in a blues-funkjazz style.

Tell us about the unique instrument that you play.

I play a very traditional Swiss  instrument, the Alpinehorn. It was a very important instrument before we had any means of communication. It was used as a communication instrument in the mountains.

What has your genre of music done to the world of music?
The Alpinehorn has the most beautiful sound in the world. I am glad I got the opportunity to play this unique instrument and make the audience experience this beautiful sound.
How does the world of music treat women musicians?

I am a very strong woman and I play an instrument which is normally played by men, hence I had to face some criticisms. But now as I am getting older and gaining experience, I feel that the respect is growing more every year.
Niladri Kumar:

Commonalities in differences
A prodigious sitar virtuoso creative enthusiasm has resulted in him crafting a truly zany and zestful sound in the form of a "zitar", a five stringed electronic, modernised version of the sitar. His open mind has led to an extension of his musical horizon to incorporate imaginative experiments in world music styles that delight the purist as well as the modernist.
You have collaborated with the most eclectic group of top musicians imaginable. What has been your experience?

The experience of collaborating and performing with the top musicians from across the globe has been a totally learning and enlightening experience in terms of not just music and culture but also of human relationships and variations in that. I owe my exposure in this regard to the greatest legend in Indian music tradition Ustad Zakir Hussain for almost taking me around as a toddler in music and showing me the amazing phenomenon in the world of sound . It seems like the journey has just started and it's going to go a long way into the future.

Tell us about the zitar
Zitar is essentially a electric sitar which happened almost more than a decade back and it was a result of my need to play a certain kind of music with certain instruments and also the result of my exposure to the various forms of music , instruments and sounds. It is quite heartening to see many sitar players and other instrumentalists following this trend now and it seems to be growing really fast. Hope and pray it is in the right direction as far as music is concerned and the essence of it in general.

According to you does fusion music emphasise our differences or does it embrace our commonalities?
The basis for fusion music is to find the commonalities in the differences but with love, respect admiration and knowledge of the alien tradition. Only then will emerge a newer dimension and colour to the existing ones only. It is of utmost importance that to do good fusion music the musician in question is a master in his or her form of music to adept easily and then make new bridges with the other form.

What according to you is the greatness of Indian classical music system?

Indian classical music is probably the oldest form and style of music on this planet since it's also a major part in Vedas and Hindu mythology. It has surely evolved over centuries but the very fact that till date it is being practised, taught and performed itself speaks for the strength, vastness, aesthetics, sensual and spiritual attributes which is simply incomparable with any other traditional art form. Also, India is the only place on this planet to have two distinct classical systems, the north Indian Hindustani system and the south Indian Carnatic system sustaining and co-existing together. Our classical music system is far greater than measuring yardsticks we humans have invented or words to describe its greatness.

Gino Banks: Loving the work
A drums and percussion star, Gino Banks is the son of Louiz Banks, India's legendary jazz pianist and composer. Gino is a versatile player; this trait leads him to performing and recording with artistes and bands of all types of genres. He has performed with international musicians like Mike Stern, Guthrie Govan, Tony Lakatos, George Brooks, amongst others
You fooled around with the drums since you were eight years old and took it up seriously when you were 15. How has the journey been?

The journey keeps getting better with each passing year as a musician, a drummer and a person. It has been fantastic and I owe to the music I play and my fellow musicians who I share the stage with. It's a lot of work but I love the work.

Do you think there is a huge potential for fusion music?
Of course.  As cliched as this sounds, fusion music has no boundaries. Fusion music is probably one of the most creative, credible as well as entertaining genres of music and best when experienced live. It is a rare combination these days in the arts.
When you perform with artistes who come from different parts of the world do you worry that you may all go out of sync? Or is it that whichever part of the world you come from you manage to create perfect music?

If the musicians are highly skilled and are experienced players/performers we never worry about going out of sync because it can't! We are all there to showcase our individual skills as well as perform together as an ensemble and give the audience an entertaining concert. As long as we share the same goal/destination (musically speaking), the journey will always be fantastic and in sync.

What musical plans for the future do you have?
Lots of plans. I am in the process of producing a lot of audio/video projects with various fusion instrumental/vocal artists in a live/studio setting and continue performing concerts all over the world with musicians I like playing with! It is always a work in progress.
Abbos Kosimov:

Fusion is the future
He is widely appreciated as an international phenomenon; through his dynamic performances. He is recognised globally as a master of Doyra and an ambassador of Uzbek culture. Additionally he was the recipient of Best Musical Composition award from the prestigious Isadora Duncan Dance Award.

In 2001, in honour of the 10th anniversary of Uzbekistan's Independence Abbos was awarded with a medal and given the illustrious title of honoured artists of Uzbekistan by the president of Uzbekistan.

Tell us about you and the music you play. Tell us about the doyra?
I play Uzbek's traditional percussion instruments (doyra, qayroq, nogara) and I play classical music, folk music, jazz music and fusion music.

How popular is fusion music in Uzbekistan? How exposed are the youngsters to music from other parts of the world?

It is quite popular in Uzbekistan and I am proud to say that Uzbeki artistes love fusion music and the opportunity to perform with musicians from across the world.

What has been your experience in working with musicians from other parts of the world?
For me it has been a very good experience, I like to play with different musicians as it helps me learn new ideas and methods and I enjoy when I play fusion music with different artistes from all over the world.

I love fusion music, and I believe this is the future of music. Osam Ezzeldin:

Bringing the world closer
Osam has performed jazz gigs with the leading jazz musicians. Performances have been with all kinds of music and musicians. He has tried traditional jazz, R&B, fusion, Afro-Cuban jazz, Blues. He has been honoured to have the great drummer Terri Lyne Carrington's name and Bernard Wright jazz pianist as a reference. He has performed with the great Marchel Ivery.

Tell us about your music 
I grew up listening to many kinds of music such as (African, Indian, Oriental, western, etc). At the age of 18 a friend of mine played me the first Jazz piece I've ever heard and that was a biggest changing point in my life.

I fell in love immediately with jazz music and somehow I understood that music naturally even though that piece was one of the most complex jazz tunes. I had to then start teaching myself as for some reasons teachers back then did not want to help me as I was an advanced Jazz pianist already to them and they did not like that.

This made my learning process more difficult however in the process it gave myself the ability create my own sound! After playing with some of the best musicians in the world, a few years later I got a full scholarship from Berklee Collage of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
How did your tryst with fusion music begin?

Actually my learning of music has been pretty unconventional which means that usually a musician would have to start learning the traditional side of the music and then later on learn the fusion side of the music. In my case the first music I heard and fell in love with was fusion music. That's just the way it was. For me I had to go back in time to learn and listen to the traditional side of the music because fusion was my first love. That is how my tryst with fusion began. 

How many years did it take you to perfect your music?
Well I have been working on my music playing and composing for about 15 years so far and I will continue to as I think that music is a never ending process of learning and inventing new ideas and shapes. Therefore I think the secret to perfect music is to keep thinking that your music is not perfect yet even if it was perfect! That is just the way I see it.

Can fusion music help transcend cultural, traditional and help overcome prejudices?
Of course fusion music could do that because in order to be a professional fusion player you'd have to learn and listen to almost every kind of music from all over the world. That is what fusion music means.

When you get to learn a different kind of music from different parts of the world automatically you learn how other musicians think and you get to feel closer to them and united as well which is always such a great experience.

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