The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is constantly seeking to expose audiences to a diversity of artists and will this year feature renowned Indian
musician Bickram Ghosh.
Ghosh performs as part of a quartet bearing his name and which includes Arun Kumar on drums, Abhishek Mallik on the electric sitar and Jonathan Kay on the saxophone.
Ghosh will land in Cape Town with a wealth of experience and global exposure as numerous awards have been bestowed on this talented musician.
His band has performed throughout the length and breadth of India made its UK debut in 2003 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. In 2004, they performed at the Forum at Barcelona, sharing the stage with musicians Sting, Phil Collins, Norah Jones and Bob Dylan.
Ghosh has not been shy of awards either. He was featured on musician Ravi Shankar’s album Full Circle, which won a Grammy award. He has also played on three other albums that have been nominated for Grammy awards. This includes former Beatle band member George Harrison’s album Brainwashed.
Ghosh’s successful solo albums include Beyond Rhythmscape, Folktail, Drum Invasion, Kingdom of Rhythm and Transformation. And he has composed music for 30 feature films – including a string of Bollywood hits – and features on at least 100 albums.
Another film he scored music for was Sooni Taraporewala, which had support from award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair. He has since teamed up with Bollywood singing star Sonu Nigam as co-composers in Bollywood with three films, including the film Jal, which was nominated for an Oscar award for the best original score.
This should not really be that surprising though, considering Ghosh is the son of the illustrious tabla maestro Pandit Shankar Ghosh and well-known vocalist
Jazz festival fans can expect some experimentation from an artist known for fusing Indian music with a contemporary touch. His style has been branded as Indo-fusion and he dabbles in a vast repertoire of musical genres, from classical to rock.
In an interview with Gulf News, Ghosh said he prefers to play music differently each time. "Indian classical music is nothing but two artists going on stage with nothing written down... For me, I cannot do the same thing twice… we do shows of Rhythmscape (recorded 17 years ago), but each time we play it completely different," he said.
"Otherwise, I am certainly bored. I find it completely meaningless.”
Ghosh also seeks out foreign collaborators to expand the musical experience. "If it is just me every time then it is limited in scope. We also need other energies. We need to have a guest from America, from the UK, or from Europe or from Japan," he told Gulf News.
Ghosh still draws inspiration from the legendary musician Shankar, whom he has accompanied in live concerts for at least a decade and who honed his skills in the art of accompaniment. All the while he has played with the greatest maestros of both North and South Indian Classical music.
Ghosh’s new touring performance, Drums of India, showcases the incredible versatility of Indian drumming and traveled across the United States in 2016.
Back at home, in 2012 Ghosh recreated the Indian national anthem Vande Mataram along with 22 of India’s greatest musical stars.