Jazz meets Carnatic: Utsav Lal & Kalinath Mishra in a rare jugalbandi

Pianist Utsav Lal teams up with Gujarat-based tabla artiste Kalinath Mishra for a rare fusion performance

Karan Pillai Published :  04th August 2017 01:27 PM   |   Published :   |  04th August 2017 01:27 PM
Utsav Lal

Utsav Lal

This weekend, nine days ahead of our 70th Independence Day, ITC Grand Chola in Chennai will host a special jugalbandi concert featuring the pianist prodigy Utsav Lal (24) and the tabla maestro Kalinath Mishra (47). The duo will follow up with a performance in Bengaluru the following day, at ITC Gardenia. This unique fusion of tabla and piano will feature patriotic music no doubt, but Utsav tells us that he will also perform a few of his other classical compositions.

Kalinath Mishra

For any jugalbandi, the comfort factor is key, and you will find it in abundance between these two musicians. Utsav, who first performed in India in 2003, says, “I played with Kalinath the first time in Mumbai for Kala Ghoda festival in 2012. He is one of the most responsive and sympathetic musicians I’ve played with and he has this amazing ability to predict what I’m going to play next.” Kalinath is equally generous in praising Utsav. “He is very dedicated towards his music,” he says. For his part, Kalinath will be bringing a clutch of indigenous percussion instruments including “three tablas, two chatis and one dagga”. Utsav, meanwhile, will perform on a Steinway Grand Piano.

Preach perfect
Despite being in the scene for 14 years and conducting workshops and master classes at institutions like Irish Academy and Toledo Technology Academy, USA, Utsav is still fine-tuning his knowledge by pursuing advanced studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston. He says, “There have been a lot of incredible musicians from diverse genres who influenced me — most importantly, my guru Wasifuddin Dagar and the Dagar Dhrupad tradition. The music of Terry Riley and other composers like Michael Harrison, who works with just intonational tuning systems, have been very inspirational too. As for jazz pianists, Thelonious Monk and Ran Blake were key influencers for my understanding of music. From the Celtic traditional music side, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill have really influenced me.”  

Fusion vision
The vast exposure to music allows him to perform in international festivals and contribute to projects such as an ongoing tutorial video series with Warren Senders in Boston, and another duet with a bluegrass fiddle player. “Besides experiments with intonational music, I’m also working on a record that showcases my work in Indian classical music over the past few years,” he says, adding that he also follows groups like Silk Road Ensemble. “Watch out for Vijay Iyer as well,” he adds.  

Aug 5, 7 pm. Details: 22200000