Album Reviews

Ravi Shankar: In Hollywood, 1971 (Northern Spy)

shankar

Ravi Shankar
In Hollywood, 1971
Northern Spy Records

Ravi Shankar was and forever will remain the greatest ambassador of indian music and the greatest master of the sitar. He devoted the entirety of his long life to the instrument, and archival releases such as this one continue to float to the surface well after his passing. In Hollywood 1971 captures him in performance in an intimate setting—an early morning set taken from a June 1971 private performance at his Hollywood home, playing for friends and well-wishers.

For this showcase, Ravi performs three pieces, all related to the setting and time of day. “Raga Parameshwari” is a tribute to the morning sun, and runs an epic forty minutes. Like much of his music, it is an entrancing, hypnotizing work, one that builds its intensity slowly and takes its time to increase the tempo, which doesn’t come until the middle of part two of the performance. On “Hollywood Dhun,” a short, ten minute piece, he expresses his sadness for the situation in Bangladesh. “Sindhi Bhairavi,” the final piece, is a more uptempo performance, an intoxicating delight of Eastern richness.

Attending this set was his friend George Harrison, who would have a lengthy post-concert discussion with Shankar about the Bangladesh tragedy. A few weeks after this performance, Shankar would appear onstage in New York at Harrison’s benefit, Concert for Bangladesh; he would perform a lengthier version of this day’s “Dhun” as “Bangla Dhun,” and the concert would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for UNICEF for Bangladesh relief. In Hollywood, 1971 is a fantastic little rarity that captures a special moment in time of a master at work, and is a delightful addition to the Shankar legacy.

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