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News |  17 Jun 2019 18:03 |  By RnMTeam

Edgier compositions and a strong emphasis on rhythmic structures is important today: Ranjit Barot

MUMBAI: One of the most revered names in the rhythm world, Ranjit Barot, began his career when he was in his teens. He has covered almost every sphere in the music field-composing, jamming, arranging, drumming, and a singer too! Today at the age of 59, he looks back at his life and shares insights in an exclusive interview with Radioandmusic.

Commenting on the landscape of drumming and music in general, the legend says, “Drumming has progressed exponentially through ages. The modern practitioners are adept at paying tribute to the language of drumming from yesterday, yet reinventing it to reflect today’s attitudes in music and serve compositions of modern maestros. Composition styles in all genres have also gone through some radical changes. Edgier compositions and a strong emphasis on rhythmic structures is important today.”

He further reflects on his life, “It’s hard to express this though I feel blessed to have got opportunities. I’ve tried to do justice to the life I’ve been given. I look around and realise that it would be irresponsible on my part to not give back, to music and society, the same love and attention that was given to me.”

As many would know, Ranjit is born to legendary Kathak danseuse Sitara Devi and he says he owes everything to her. He shares, “My very core and spirit is a direct derivative of my mother’s DNA. The environment she created for me was the best university I could have attended. Her love and support laid the foundation and allowed me to become what I am. I owe her everything.”

While he feels blessed to be Sitara Devi’s son, he is today a proud father of Mallika Barot, with whom he performed at the recently held Palm Expo, “I presented my daughter Mallika who sings with me in my band called 'Superphonic'. I was particularly proud to present her and was equally thrilled to share the stage with her. It’s something I engineered so that I could have this musical proximity with her and also be able to nurture and oversee her growth as a musician. It also features an amazing young keyboard player, composer and singer Gulraj Singh.”

He adds, “For me, this event primarily was to shed light on some of the products, I endorse. I showcased some amazing gear for Yamaha and Harman at the live venues provides by my sponsors.”

In long and illustrious career, he has collaborated with many geniuses and made music to remember. He remembers the memories fondly and shares some with us too, “Every collaboration and association brings its own set of triumphs and challenges. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed the company and be mentored by the greatest of artists in the world. From my mother to the late great Ustad Alla Rakha who was my guru, to his son and legendary tabla maestro - Ustad Zakir Hussain and the giant of modern jazz/fusion - John McLaughlin. On the other hand, there is an incredible privilege of working closely with my brother, the generation-defining composer in the modern Indian mainstream music - A. R. Rahman. Each one of these associations has resulted in joyous sound and has shaped my musical outlook as a whole.”

The legend keeps working, exploring, experimenting even now, after having success. We as fans have a lot to look forward, as he shares about his future projects, “I am currently, working on my own album as a composer/singer, with mainly Hindi songs, the genre being current and global. With my band, ‘Musafir’, I will be stepping out from behind the drums and venturing to showcase my vocals and song-writing. This band brings together the fantastic talents of Ashwin Srinivasan, Gulraj Singh, and Aditya Paudwal.”

While he is working with the younger generation, he has also collaborated with legends like Taufiq Qureshi and Sridar Parathsarthy on Elementaal - a collaboration with maestros Taufiq Qureshi (Percussion) and Sridar Parthasarathy (mridangam, kanjira).

Speaking about the same, he says, “This will be a celebration of drums, and the energy is incredible with these exciting musician/drummers/ composers, who are also my brothers. The idea is bringing rhythmic traditions from India and the world over, into a modern presentation, featuring live drums with electronica and various guest soloists.”

He is working on Western genre too. He reveals about the same, “In the Western genre, I have a wonderful trio called ‘UnCommon’ where I bring together bassist extraordinaire Etienne Mbappé (he’s played with the likes of Salif Keita, with whom he was also musical director of the band, and with the late great Joe Zawinul of Weather Report game) and the super talented Christophe Cravero (violin, piano). We had our very first three-city tour here a few months back, which was a huge success. This features my Jazz-World compositions predominantly and is a new foray into the world of jazz-rock and funk. We will have an album releasing later this year.”

Beyond performing, composing, singing and music arranging, Ranjit Barot is also a founding partner at The Quarter, the latest hub for eclectic live performances in Mumbai. “I am a founding partner at The Quarter. My role there is mainly as curator/programming director of the live performance stage for the music club known as 'LIVE at The Quarter'.”

Over the years, Ranjit Barot is a name, synonymous with percussion and has created fans and young admirers across the globe.

Lastly, Ranjit shares advice for the younger generation, “There are no short cuts to be taken to get to the top. Drown in the sea of music and then, maybe in this lifetime, you will express some part of yourself via this magical medium. It’s an on-going search for all of us. The basic tenets are practice, practice and more practice. The music you wish to make has to be a part of you, you can’t fake it. Have good skills, be professional, turn up for all your commitments fully prepared, and on time.”

Now, that’s some ‘sound’ advice by the master!