Artiste of the Month - February 2018
Indian Raga Music thrives on improvisations. No two performances by the same day can claim to be the same. For a musician with substance, therefore, sky is the limit. His improvisations, within the framework of a Raga or within the limitations of the instrument he plays, become a novel experience for himself as well as his listeners. Some go beyond and open new horizons in the field of their work. Debashish Bhattacharya is one such musical personality whose artistry and creativity mark him.Born in Kolkata in 1963 to a family with a long musical lineage, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya was initiated into Indian classical singing, but was drawn to the guitar because of its ability to emulate the human voice when used with a slide. For ten years, he became a disciple and student of Brij Bhushan Kabra, the father of Indian classical guitar, and then also trained under Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, the eminent Indian vocalist. He has also studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. His debut concert at the age of four, broadcast by All India Radio, Calcutta, was blessed by the late Ustad Keramatullah Khan of Farukhabad Gharana who also accompanied him on the Tabla. In his teens, he advanced his unique style of playing guitar and at twenty, Debashish received the President of India Award for winning the National Music competition of AIR. Debashish, while still in his thirties, was awarded the Top Grade at AIR.His Hindustani Slide Guitar, which he calls the Chaturangui is a completely new instrument: by modifying and adding strings to the western guitar, Debashish has been able to create uniquely Indian sounds and techniques. Debashish developed his innovative twenty-four-string Hindustani Slide Guitar after years of research and experience. He has introduced a new finger style as well as playing style combining thumb and index finger. This produces finest bol variety, fastest Taanas, and strongest Jhala, which were technically impossible on a slide guitar earlier. These technical innovations, combined with his incredible talent and discipline, sets him apart from other artists, both on the international circuit and among Indian musicians who play Indian music on western instruments. As an innovative slide guitarist he has already set a new trend among guitarists.He has the honour of performing with renowned musicians of the world : Ustad Zakir Hussain, John Mclaughlin and great musicians like Martin Simpson, Bob Brozman, Rene Lacaille, Takashi Hiriyasu and many others. He has recorded with labels from around the world. The performer in Debashish has a rare quality of communicating with each one of his listeners through his instrument in every performance. His uncanny sense of musical understanding has established him as a recording artiste whose perfect virtuosity matches all categories of music be it Indian, or any kind of Western classical, jazz, blues, folk or Nue Music.As a composer, Debashish`s faith lies in Universal Music. A dedicated Guru and pathfinder Debashish has written a syllabus, the first of its kind, on Indian Classical Guitar, which includes technical terminologies and abbreviations.As an inventor, Debashish is perhaps a phenomenon in the history of World Music and Indian Classical Music having created a trinity of slide guitars, christened Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi.
His work has earned him president of India award in 1984, The Asiatic Society Gold Medal in 2005 and BBC Planet Award for World Music in 2007.