A meeting by the River....

Sayas here on Audiogon recommended a to me a CD called "A Meeting by the River" featuring Ry Cooder on Bottlenect Guitar and V.M. Bhatt on Vina. I found this recording to be facinating. It's a real cross cultural dialogue through music. Ry plays a bluesy riff and Bhatt compliments it with blues a la vina. Then Bhatt plays a raga and Ry plays that bottleneck like a Vina...complete with drone chord. There is even interesting cross dialogue between Joaquim Cooder, backing his father on dumbek and Bhatt's tabla player. The result culiminates in the incredible track "Ganges Delta Blues." This is really a fanstastic piece and magical playing. My hat off to Sayas and I would like to know if any of you have similar suggestions...not necessarily Indian-American dialogue, but some other cross cultural exchange that is magical. By all means, try this record, unless you can't stand Sitar/Vina...otherwise, I highly doubt that you'll be disappointed...au contraire.
"Music for a Motherless Child" by Simpson and Wu (Guitar and Pipa). It is also on Waterlilly. Beautifully recorded, even better from a technical standpoint than Metting by the River. Simple, but a wonderful display of two cultures meeting. I agree with you completely on Meeting by the River.
Oh, just one other observation...one of the most facinating things about this album is that neither artist had played with the other. So, on the first track, you can feel the two getting to know each other. If you listen, you can hear that Ry is a bit out of his element playing indian raga style. And even a little bit sloppy. Bhatt is very conservative on this first track too. The second track they get it together pretty well. But on the third track, they are completely jivin and the result is incredible. So this is really kind of microcosm/musical analogy to any other cross cultural interaction...learning each others language and then beginning to discuss fluently and then laughing and shouting together. Check it out.
"A Meeting By The River" has been a favorite "world music" recording of mine for 5 years or so. Kavi Alexander, who owns Water Lily Recordings, is a dedicated audiophile as well as very literate musically. If you enjoy "River" and recordings like it, may I suggest that you acquaint yourself with the recordings on the "MA Recordings" label. The label has a number of "world music" / cross-cultural recordinds, all done to very high recording standards. I found one of their more recent releases to be excellent: "Sera Una Noche". For more info about MA's releases, go their Web site:

I have heard and own a couple of other Bhatt releases on Water Lily and they are all fairly sublime recordings. There is an interesting disc featuring Bhatt and Taj Mahal which is quite nice and another Water Lily disc by the title of "Kambara Music in Native Tongues" comes very higly recommended. This features a couple of classically trained Indian musicians with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and guitar maestro Martin Simpson performing a fairly unique East/West fusion, even throwing in a rather affecting cover of a Merle Haggard tune ('The Running Kind') for good measure. If you haven't heard the collaboration that Ry Cooder did with the African guitarist Ali Farke Toure ('Talking Timbuktu'), I'd highly advise that you do so. Also, inhabiting a more 'outside' musical region are the Suns of Arqa. The majority of their recordings focused on heavy rhythms and electronica, but always with the very distinct and direct influence of Indian musical idioms and instrumentation. On a couple of their discs, these musical influences came very much to the front to create a brooding and hypnotic blend of very deep dub produçtion applied to raga based jam sessions. Check out 'Kokoromochi' or 'Cradle'...both very nice. A number of jazz musicians and ensembles have incorporated elements of traditional African, Middle Eastern and Indian musics, and this is another region of musical discovery well worth digging into.
This is one of the many discs that Bob Harley lists as part of his reference recordings in his "complete guide" book. I bought it along with all of the others listed so that i might have a better feel for where he and other reviewers were coming from. Needless to say, there are some good discs and bad discs in that list, depending on ones' musical tastes and background. Like many of the other "great recordings", much of this music is lacking "body & soul" to me ( although this one in specific is not bad at all). As such, i've found discs that i think work MUCH better than what he lists to judge gear by, but then again, this is more along my tastes and background. Sean
I agree wholeheartedly. I came across this 4 song CD from Jay Shah who helped produce this. Really nice guy who is an absolute tube and analog nut- in a good way. Wonderful quality of recording, precise imaging, absolutely black background. Overall very well done. I really enjoyed the eastern feel to the music. I have little exposure to eastern music but found it very involving. Anyway, it's a gem and I'm glad you think so too. I'm going to put in in the system right now.

A crosscultural exhange I've enjoyed alot is "Cho," by Steve Tibbetts & Choying Drolma.(Hannibal label, HNCD1404) On a visit to their Tibetan Buddhist nunnery,
Tibbetts was smitten by the beauty of the nuns chanting & song. He recorded them-Drolma is the main voice-and then later added his spare & beautiful musical contributions in his studio. He returned, played them the result, and they loved it. This is like no music you've ever heard, very atmospheric and evocative. You can really feel good about buying this one, as proceeds from sales help support the exiled nuns at Nagi Gompi. Will.
Thanks guys...I'll check some of those recording out and get back to you. I've heard a couple of titles before so I'm sure that they're good. Todd