Of strings and winds: Indo-jazz folk fusion with Bosque Magico and RA Ramamani
Going by how German guitarist Ralf Siedhoff manages to seamlessly mix different styles of music in his former projects, it came as no surprise when he decided to bring on board acclaimed vocalist RA Ramamani for his upcoming performance with his band Bosque Magico. Accompanying him in the trio will be Ukrainian oboe player Mykyta Sierov and Indian percussionist Karthik Mani, who together have been performing for around three years in countries like India, Chad, Holland, Spain and Switzerland. This year, they opened the Kurt Weill Fest in Dessau, Germany, as well. Ahead of their performance at Goethe Institut next week, as a part of the cultural centre’s Musix Series, we caught up with the trio and found out more about their collaboration with Ramamani and how much their music has evolved over the years. Excerpts:
How did Bosque Magico start as a musical group?
Ralf: Around five years ago, I met Mykyta at a recording session. During that time I was on the lookout for an oboe player who had the talent to improvise. Later, I invited him to a concert, and it worked out so well that we decided to form a group together. Later, when we wanted to collaborate with a lot of other musicians, we brought on board stalwarts from countries like Spain and India, the latter from which Karthik Mani will be joining us for our upcoming performance. For many years, I have had this affinity towards Indian music. A long time ago, I had come to this country to get lessons in Carnatic music (from Ramamani herself!). Therefore, most of my compositions are influenced by Indian music. Therefore, it’s significant that we open this tour with Karthik, so that he can bring his own Indian rhythmical influences.
Take us through your process of making music together?
Ralf: I compose all the songs, with my guitar. Then I bring it to Mykyta, who brings in more arrangements and changes a few melodies here and there. And then, with this, we come to India, where Karthik adds a few parts, like solos and a few additional instruments. So, it’s all a result of some brilliant teamwork, because everybody brings his colour and flavour into the music.
Mykyta: We try our best to do fusion music when we meet, that is almost everyday at our recording studio in Weimar. We practise for a lot of hours to perfect our fusion melodies.
Karthik: When Ralf presented his music to me, I opened up some of his pieces and then I put some new parts with my percussion. I then listen to the music and passages once and imagine the instruments that I am going to play with.
How much has the group’s musical style evolved over the years?
Mykyta: We started off doing a lot of concerts, and we took the time to sync with each other and understand how to play with each other. Over the years, we have incorporated a number of musicals styles into our soundscape, ranging from Indian percussion and jazz to flamenco, among others.
What inspired you to bring on board RA Ramamani?
Ralf: Around a long time ago I was taking lessons in Carnatic music from her at the Karnataka College of Percussion to understand the nuances of this style of music. We realised that her beautiful voice fit very well into our combination. For me, it’s a dream to work with such a great exponent of Carnatic music.
What kind of creative inputs did she provide during the music production process?
Karthik: Ramamani ji got in a lot of Carnatic influences and added new flavours and parts to the songs that we were all doing. She also brought in her composition called Dapa, and music with a lot of ragas and Konakkol styles. She is also the pioneer of Indo-jazz fusion in India, so it is an honour for all three of us to perform with her.
Do you have any upcoming album in the works?
Ralf: We released a new album the end of last year, called Tu Tiempo, and it is available in Itunes and Spotify. A new one is in progress that will be released next year and hopefully will feature Ramamani as well.
At Goethe Institut. October 14. 7 pm onwards. Details: 2833-1314.
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