Pune, Maharashtra State,
December 1985 - September
from the liner notes to the Antigravity
When I began putting
together the Indian Antigravity ensemble in late 1985, my first
contact was Ramakant Paranjpe. Although we had met before, he
had never given any thought to playing jazz or experimental music.
As we rehearsed, I came to appreciate Ramakant's many gifts:
he's an excellent sight-reader (of North Indian notation), thoroughly
versed in the ragas of Hindustani tradition, and a great improvisor
with exquisite intonation and a singing tone. After we'd been
practicing together for a while he mentioned a friend who played
the bamboo flute - and would surely be interested in this new
music. When Ajit Soman came over we got along splendidly, and
the music began to take off even more. Ajit's flute playing is
different from that of any other Indian musician I've heard. He
brings a restless, inquiring and humorous personality to his instrument,
creating new approaches to rhythm, melody and the construction
of solos. He's a composer and percussionist as well, and good
company to boot.
After we had
done our premiere Indian performance (with Antigravity alumnus
Phil Scarff visiting from the USA and joining us on soprano sax),
Ramakant and Ajit said they had another friend, a sitarist, who
was right up my alley. That was how I met Atul Keskar, who had
started out as a child prodigy in Indian music (first performance
at the age of six!). Atul took to our music immediately, and began
listening avidly to jazz records to pick up inflections and rhythms.
Hearing him play "Billie's Bounce" on the sitar was an experience
I've never forgotten!
three, my electric bass, and the tabla of Mayuresh Godse, the
ensemble seemed complete for a while. Then in late 1986 a series
of changes took place. Vijaya Sundaram joined the band on acoustic
guitar and voice, bringing harmonic flavorings and melodic colors.
Over the years that we've worked together I enjoy her accompaniment
more and more; simultaeously
she has built her own solo guitar style. She's a versatile and
gifted musician, never afraid to take chances in improvisation.
At the same time, the rhythm section changed, with Shreenivas
Renavikar playing tabla, and Rajiv Devasthali playing percussion
(It was at this time that Rajiv gave me the greatest gift possible
by introducing me to his father, Pandit S. G. Devasthali, my own
teacher of khyal vocal music). The band worked like this for seven
or eight months, performing in different venues in Maharashtra.
In May 1987 I returned to the United States, and things went on
to India on January 1st, 1988. We started work again, but it was
extremely complicated. Arranging rehearsals had always been tough,
but for most of 1988 it seemed that we were never able to get
everybody together in one place at one time! Finally we gave one
concert at the end of the year, shortly after Vijaya and I got
married on December 4th, 1988. The front line was the same, but
Sudhir Parkhi, one of Rajiv Devasthali's students, was playing
percussion; Jim DiSpirito was on tabla.
and the first eight months of 1990 Vijaya and I were in the U.S.A.
I knew that the group needed to record in India, and this project
was always on my mind. John Styklunas completed my new collapsible,
floor model electric double-bass (weighing just eleven pounds!)
just a few days before our departure for India in September 1990.
I didn't get a chance to start playing it until we arrived.
we'd gotten settled in our Pune apartment, Ashish Manchanda knocked
at the door and introduced himself. As soon as he sat down to
play on my percussion setup I knew that we had found the missing
ingredient. With Sudhir on tabla, the rhythm section was complete.
Fortunately, the Ishwani Kendra Studio was available to us during
our stay, and Edwin Vas, a skilled engineer. Over the year that
we spent in Pune, we recorded eleven pieces, nine of which are
heard here. We hope you enjoy this music as much as we did.
Box 1634, Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA 02238