Indian Music?

Years ago I listened to Ravi Shankar occasionally and enjoyed a lot of what I heard. The other night I watched an interview Charlie Rose had with a very famous tabla player and his music was superb. I'm thinking that I should explore traditional Indian music a bit further but have little knowledge of the subject. Any suggestions on 2-6 CDs I should check out for starters? I prefer instrumental but would consider vocal as well. Thanks!
PS: If you're suggesting obscure titles, sources would also be appreciated.
sheila chandra ''weaving my ancestors voices'' formaly female singer for the indian group MOONSOON
Check this out about Nikhil Bannerjee:
Zakir Hussain is wonderful, look for him on the ECM label
Shakti has him playing tabla with John Mglaughlin,T.H. Vildar and Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Also checkout Balachander and VM bhatt (who played with Cooder on "A Meeting By the River'
I second "Meeting by the River" on Water Lily Acoustics Label ....a collaboration between Ry Cooder and VM Bhatt. It is a facinating cross cultural dialogue between two diverse vituosos. Ry plays his steel guitar like a Sitar and Bhatt blues up his Sitar playing. Lots of soul on that recording

Also Nikhil Banerjee is amazing. One of the all time great Sitar players.
The vocalists Parween Sultana and Dilshad Khan seem to defy what is humanly possible with their voices. Their music is virtuosic, emotionally compelling, and absolutely life-affirming. The master of the sarod, Ali Akbar Khan, is another artist very much worth exploring.

For a more interesting east/west collaboration than "Meeting By The River"---Cooder was very tired at that session and it shows---"Good People In Times Of Evil" by Jonas Hellborg, Shawn Lane, and V. Selvaganesh is a remarkably vital document.
Second looking at the records of Ali Akbar Khan.
A big SECOND to "Meeting by the River" Water Lily is an excellent label and sound is excellent on this...
check any SHAKTI recording with John Mclaughlin.. best ones are from late 70's "Natural Elements".
Second on anything Zakir Hussian.
A cardiologist I work with turned me onto Natacha Atlas, the album something Dangerous is really cool.

Indian with many world intonations added in. Not purely Ravi Shankar, but something to look into if you like the genre but want something a bit more contemporary as well.
There are some names which are always good bets: Ali Akhbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Ram Narayan, Zakir Hussein, Mahapurush Misra. The last two are tabla players, the first three play sarod, sitar and sarangi respectively. They are the best-known and always good but that doesn't mean lesser-known artists can't turn in some great performances.

My own favourite musician is Zia Mohuiddin Dagar on rubra vina. This is an antique instrument that very few know how to play, and Z. M. does the slower movements exclusively: alap and jor. To me it is very profound and meditative music.

Perhaps I should mention that the only living persons I name are Ram Narayan, who is over 80, and Zakir Hussein, who will soon be 60. I would love to know more about the younger generation.
I like all the suggestions listed, although most of them are not "traditional", they are all worth listening to. I was surprised to see the criticism of Ry Cooder as "tired". I think that is one of the best world/hybrid discs and one of the best moments in Cooder's career. It is also one of the rare moments where great music has been recorded to audiophile standards. The separation of the instruments and the mic technique is extraordinary.

I also join the others in suggesting that you can't go wrong with: Ali Akbar Khan

I also suggest looking for recordings by any of these artists: Dr. L. Subramaniam on Karnatic Violin, Amjad Ali Khan on sarod and Ustad Vilayat Khan on sitar

I am a big fan of the "India Archives Series". CD's are $12-$15 on average. I have picked up many of these and have not been let down once.

For younger artists I suggest: Deobrat Mishra (son of Pandit Shivnath), Purbayan Chatterjee and Ranajit Sengupta (although he is now 40 and I guess could be considered not so young)

Hope that helps a bit
Ali Akbar Khan and L. Subramaniam both have LPs on Water Lily Acoustics.Sheila Chandra with or without Monsoon is really britpop.Stick to something a bit more serious.
Great recommendations. Here's a few more:

My favorite Indian performance is probably a collaboration with Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin called West Meets East -- riveting. His raga collection "From Dusk to Dawn" is also nice.

For fans of 'A Meeting...' VM Bhatt has another fine recording on Water Lily called 'Saradamani.' He also has another with Taj Mahal called 'Mumtaz Mahal' theat serves as my reference for soundstaging.

Shiv Kumar Sharma (playing santoor): 'The Valley Recalls' with Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute). Both have many fine recordings.

Kalhor and Khan: 'Ghazal'; also 'Moon rise....'

Ali Akbar Khan -- my favorite (musically) is 'Journey,' but there was a 'signature series' remastered by Bob Ludwig and Mark Levinson that has wonderful sonics.
I'll recommend these artists. First among many who I love is the master of the sarod, Buddhadev Das Gupta. His improvisational ability is unparalleled. He builds his ragas with emotionally charged energy that is amazing. His Nimbus recordings are great, but I've never heard a bad one. I've got every one of his cd's that are listed with pictures on the first page of the listing for him and they all are great.

I really like the Sarod. Tejendra Naranyan Majumdar is also a great ambassador for the instrument. His Raga Hem Behag on the India Archive Label is a good one. In fact, every disc I've bought on that label is great.

Another fine artist is Shiv Kumar Sharma, a virtuoso player of the Indian hammered dulcimer (Santoor.) His evening raga Janasammohini on the Realworld label is a great place to start.

For something a bit less common, the Vina player Chiiti Babu's "The Art of the Vina" on the Seven Seas label is excellent. This one always amazes me with it's bluesy feeling. This one is out of print, but Amazon has more.

I had the pleasure of seeing Budhaditya Mukherjee live on my birthday ten years ago and that was the most incendiary live concert I've ever seen in any musical genre. His performance was if you combined Stevie Ray Vaughn's power with Jascha Heifitz's precision and technical prowess. Again, Nimbus records is a good label for him, see

The bottom line is that you are not likely to find ANY recordings by an Indian classical artist that a subpar musically. The master/student system functions so rigorously that I don't think it's possible for any one to make to the recording studio that doesn't measure up to the high standards generations of prior musicians laid down. At least that's the way master musicians visiting our university's music department have presented their system of artist development.
I can't claim to know anything about classical Indian, but I have listened to it many hours and have a small collection.

Imrat Khan, Raga Marwa, Nimbus Records

Dhruba Ghosh, Sarangi, Bowing Sounds from Dawn to Moonlight,Fonti Musical

The Sounds of India (details unknown, cannot locate just now)

Ravi Shankar lives about 15 miles from me and typically plays a local venue each year. I've seen him about 6x now and look forward to seeing him again. I think he is 89 now and struggling with health. Jackson Brown (another local) has been on the front row of many of these concerts.
1. Anything by the great Nikhil Banerjee (there isn't much, he died young)
2. All of the 'signature series' recordings of Ali Akbar Khan on his own label
3. On Nimbus records, anything by Asad Ali Khan
4. Anything by Z.M. Dagar, the great Rudra Vina player
5. "Midnight" by Pandit Pran Nath
If you can find "Paris Concert" on DVD grab it. Features Shawn Lane (guitar) and Jonas hellborg (bass). Lane absolutely smokes em on guitar in this one.
Interesting music, i've never heard that kind before. Some guys how to make good music, specially when they mix with techno tracks.
Bill Laswell, "Sacred Site"?
For a little crossover Indian (not just with the West, but with Asian too), try "Global Fusion" with Subramaniam on Kanartic violin. Top class players and quite good sound. Nice long tracks that create a compelling vision.