Top-Shelf Khayal Music in Rolling Meadows | Bleader

Top-Shelf Khayal Music in Rolling Meadows

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Ashwini Bhide
  • Ashwini Bhide
In the opening minute of her 2006 album Sandhya (Sense World Music) Indian classical singer Ashwini Bhide hits a series of notes in a stream of wordless singing that harmonize so eerily with her own tampura drone that I got chills for a few seconds. Now, such precision and artistry are commonplace in a discipline as rigorous as Indian classical music, but most performances usually take a while to strike such a chord. It could just be that I was playing the album loud or I that was in exactly the right mood, but it doesn't seem fair to remove Bhide from the equation—she's got a three-octave range and ridiculous technique that she controls with restraint and dignity.

Sandhya features mostly khayal, a musical form thought to have emerged in the 13th century with its origins in early qawwali. It's less wild and ecstatic than qawwali but far looser and more heavily ornamented than dhrupad, which is relatively austere and rigid—all of which makes that series of wordless notes even more effective, since it arrives during a brief section of tightly controlled melody. Khayal lyrics, which often concern romantic and divine love, are short—usually between two to eight lines in a piece that typically lasts well over half an hour—and that brevity gives a singer great improvisational latitude. On the recording Bhide stretches certain notes into long curves, toying with volume, pitch, and timbre along their length. The album also includes a bhajan, the most popular form of Hindu devotional music in north India.

Bhide gives a rare local performance on Friday at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, supported by the musicians from Sandhya: Seema Shirodkar on harmonium and Vishwanath Shirodkar on tabla.

Below is an excerpt from a 2007 performance:

Today's playlist:

Jutta Hipp, At the Hickory House, Volume 2 (Blue Note)
O.V. Wright, We're Still Together (Hi/Fat Possum)
Jessica Pavone, Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik)
Ellery Eskelin with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black, One Great Night . . . Live (Hatology)
Chiquinha Gonzaga, E Seu Tempo (Biscoito Fino)

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