Indian Sitar Stuff

While somewhat alone at the time, I rather enjoyed some of the sitar and sitar-influenced guitar work George brought to some of the Beatles songs. Just recently, I found an old Ravi Shankar LP "Three Ragas" on Pacific Jazz and really like many parts of that. Can people suggest pressings (LP's) of other similar instrumental-only Indian music featuring sitar. I am not huge on vocal pieces. Maybe if I understood. ;-)
Tabla? Santoor? No one?
Ry Cooder has an album with sitar. Excellent
If you enjoy Indian classical sitar music, expand your musical horizon slightly to include an instrument called the Sarod. It's a good sized lute like instrument with a most interesting timbre. Some astounding virtuosos play the Sarod, Ali Akbar Khan and Buddadev das Gupta come to mind first. Water Lily Acoustics has Ali Akbar Khan on vinyl as well as other good albums featuring Indian musicians collaborating with western artists. They are all good, no dogs. You are going to really limit yourself though if you insist on vinyl. There are many importers of Indian classical music but vinyl is nearly impossible to find in my experience. Don't be afraid to buy artists you are not familiar with, the system for schooling/cultivating Indian musicians is so strong that it is virtually impossible to find anything less than exceptional musicianship.
Back again, a couple more things. Another Sitar artist worth checking out is Collin Walcott, who recorded for ECM back in the 80's. I found a couple of his lp's at my local music store and they are worthwhile listening. Sitar jazz if you will. This is a category of music collecting that will require scoping out Ebay listings. If you do a "sarod" or "sitar" search in Ebay music, there are Shankar/Ali Khan collaborations on vinyl available now.
Photon, thanks for the suggestions. I figured that I migh tbe limiting myself with respect to "only on vinyl" and half expected very little produced much after the early 80's. I will serach for the titles you suggest.
There are three labels you will want to look for. The first is anything on Connoisseur Society. They are superbly recorded and there are special 45rpm editions of some of the LPs. This was being done back in the 60s and early 70s! All tube mastered too. Ali Akbar Khan was on this label.

The second label is of course EMI, who maintained recording studios in India. They recorded a complete series of many musicians and the recordings are gold. The India-pressed recordings (from Dum Dum, India) are excellent. Vilayat Khan, the unchallenged master of the Sitar, was on this label.

Nonesuch also produced some interesting recordings that should not be ignored. Sound quality is quite good.

I've not run into any recordings on World Pacific that were particularly impressive, although some of them are interesting due to the unusual nature of some of the material.

Have fun!
Wow. I've done some initial looking for these labels, Atma. I thought some of the jazz records I've bought were expensive! :-) Oh well, yuz pay fer yer plaeasures!
I second the Ali Akbar Khan - also check out the CD entitled RAIN on ECM label.
Although not sitar you might try "Gathering Rain Clouds" and "Saradamani" by V.M. Bhatt. Both are on Water Lily vinyl and are superb quality recordings. Here's a link to Bhatt's AMG info.
I second the Waterlily CD's. Check out Ali Akbar Khan's 2 SACD set on the Waterlilly label, also look for reissues of connoiser society recordings under Ali Akbar Khans own label - AMMP. On EMI vinyl look for Ustad Vilayat Khan. For Ustad Vilyat Khan on CD's look for India Archive Music & Navras CD's. I also suggest Pt. Nikhil Baneerje his bio/discography can be found on Raga Records site. Happy listening.
I will pass on the CD's, but maybe this info is of help to others.

Anyone know of a site (other than E-Bay) or two from which to seek the vinyl offerinfs (old or new)?
unfortunately ebay is the best place to find the out of print sitar LPs, and especially unfortunately, the best ones (Vilayat Khan on Indian EMI) are very sought-after and can go for big bucks if they're mint.
I am a big Indian music fan (and student of) and, if it's the music you're after, I'd reconsider your vinyl bias. I am a vinylphile and totally understand your preference, but two things about Indian music make CDs a good thing: huge dynamic changes from nearly silent to loud and LONG compositions. That being said, here are a couple CD recommendations which I would consider essential if you want to get into true Indian classical (not fusion):
The Raga Guide on Nimbus - a 4 CD set that features sarod, flute and male and female vocals, and has a great book
Raga Yaman by Z.M.Dagar (also on Nimbus) - this is very subtle contemplative ancient music played on the Rudra Vina - the ancestor of the sitar family
Happy hunting!
MS, you make a very salient point with respect ot length of piece. Thanks
Anyone interested in Santoor? The artist to lookout for is Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and is the best santoor player in the world. I have his recording which is superb "Music of the Mountains". One of his best selling album is "The call of the Valley". This album is difficult to find but absolute gem.

The Indian Flutest to look out for is Pandit Hari Prasad Churasia, he is considered the best when it comes to traditional indaian bamboo flute. He had collaborated with Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin and Jan Garberek on the album "Making Music" which is available on ECM, An absolutely wonderful album. The sonics are first rate as well. This is my reference CD when it comes to Indian Music.

Bhatt has already been mentioned so will refrain from any comment except, he is really good! For those who may want to see him performing live, they can get the Eric Clapton's DVD entitled Guitar Festival and on disc two his is the first performance.

I will come back with some more suggestions later after going through my collection, getting forgetful nowadays ;)

This doesn't fall into the category of "classical" Indian music, but if you like that influence in your music, you might check out the CDs "Jubilee" (Harry Manx and Kevin Breit) and "Wise and Otherwise" (Harry Manx) for music that melds Indian influences with the blues.
Quadophile, I'm in total agreement with your enthusiasm for Shiv Kumar Sharma's Santoor playing. It's wonderful, sublime music. I've got half a dozen of his cd's and they are all winners. Musicslug is giving good advice. The long, slow, quiet buildup of a raga's introductory section and the length of the ragas give the cd format some advantages over vinyl. This is coming from someone who prefers vinyl usually.

Shiv Kumar Sharma's music is based on Ragas particularly his album "Music of the mountains" is based on Raag "Pahari", (Pahar in hindi means mountain) and it certainly falls in the category of classical or to be more precise, light classical.

"Making Music" is certainly not pure classical.
4yanx, if you interested in the Sarod by now, I would recommend Ustad
Amjad Ali Khan as well. I saw him live with his two sons a couple of years ago
in Albuquerque. He visits the Southwest and California every couple of years,
so watch out for concerts if you are close by. I am only aware CD's at the
moment, but will check for vinyl if you are interested.

Otherwise, I can just emphasize the recommendations for Water Lily
Acoustics. Their recordings on vinyl are excellent. V.M. Bhatt is right now
touring the US/Canada and I saw him just 2 months ago. Also, Subramanian
(violin) has great recordings on WLA, which I found new at Acoustic Sounds
and Music Direct. Worth checking out.

Nice to hear that Indian EMI vinyl is so highly regarded. My wife's parents
(who are from India) just dropped off 10 Indian classical LP's with me that
they had lying around for the last 20 years. Now, I'll have to check for LP's if I
get to visit India again...

Also, not quite Indian classical, but at least available as excellent recordings
on vinyl (from Enya records): Rabih Abou Khalil "Sultan's Picnic" (Oud). My
favorite for merging middle eastern music and western jazz.

Good luck on your search for Indian Classical on vinyl.
Hey Restock. EMI vinyl from India generally is quite good. I am curious where your in-laws are from in India??? If you are going to India and are near Bombay (and a few other spots), the music scene is quite active, especially in the winter. You can see most of the major performers for very little $$. Many at insanely good outdoor gigs, and sometimes at insanely picturesque locations. If you ever get to N. California, the Indian classical music scene is thriving. With Ali Akbar Khan's College of Music ( not only bringing in major talent, but their students give gigs frequently. With Ali Akbar Khan on occasion performing.
Check out Bhatt--Meeting at the River, very good
Great info, I'd never considered buying Indian classical on CD, mostly just getting what used records I find, which means primarily Ravi Shankar. I don't know much about this music, but the point about uninterrupted running time makes good sense, I really dig hearing a raga taking its time developing. Next time I go CD shopping (which doesn't happen too often compared to my used record scrounging) I'll have to be on the lookout for some of these suggestions. BTW 4yanx, interestingly I also have a Shankar LP entitled "Three Ragas", but this one is on Capitol (DT 2720) with Chatur Lal on tabla and Pradyot Sen on tamboura. I guess American labels may have thought that one piece taking up one whole side was about the limit they could easily sell at the time...
You gotta love Audiogon.

"I'm in total agreement with your enthusiasm for Shiv Kumar Sharma's Santoor playing"

This is one of the best sentences I've ever seen in print. Who knew there were (at least) two avid fans of Shiv Kumar Sharma's santoor playing out there?

BTW, I've always liked this music and own some of the Cooder/Bhatt/Shankar stuff as well as a couple of D. Byrne's compilations. Enjoyable enough, but I will use this info to seek out some of the more esoteric material you guys have recommended.

Thanks to all for the advice.


This thread I realised you created almost a year ago. Have been able to find what you were looking for? Just curious
You started out near the top of the heap! Haven't found anything i dig more than 3 Ragas. For deluxe recording quality you may wanna check out Jonas Hellborg's Good People cd (no sitar, but it's close).
Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi, has a wonderful CD out, titled, if I recall 'Anoushka'. Traditional technique with some of her own compositions. She has the most fluid hands on the instrument I've ever heard. Can be seen on the George Harrison tribute at the Royal Albert Hall. She is also on a terrific live recording with her dad - I'll try to remember to bring the particulars from home.
Here it is;

Anoushka Shankar, self-titled 'Anoushka', Angel Records
7 2345-56729-2. (CD)

Try also 'Ravi Shankar, 'Full Circle - Carnegie Hall 2000', Angel Records, 7 22435-57106-2 (CD), an exciting live album with father Ravi and daughter Anoushka dueling sitars.

I have a small collection of classical Indian CDs. A sitar on a bad sounding system or badly recorded will send you to the off button quicker than anything. To date, the best sounding CD I have found is:

Imrat Khan (surbahar & sitar)
Shafaatullah Khan (tabla)
Raga Marwas
Nimbus Records

The surbahar is a "bass" sitar. Nice sound!

Nonesuch, Ryko, Water Lilly Acoustics, Nimbus, EMI all offer some great recordings. Will have to check out Connoisseur Society.
I live in San Diego, CA and fortunately Ravi Shankar does too. He plays the local venues between world tours and I've seen him about once a year for 7 years or so. Unfortunately he is ~87 and the last time I saw him he had FINALLY slowed down. Maybe he was just nurturing his shoulder injury.

I don't listen to Ravi much at home, but a live performance is an incredible experience not to miss.

I'm very interested in others selections of Indian and other "world" music on indigenous instruments playing "originals" from the 14th century, or whatever. I'll post some additional favorite recordings soon, but consider:

Hamza El Din (oud / 4 string, fretless lute)
ESCALAY (The Water Wheel).
oud and tabla, a bit of vocals. wow! Nubian, not Indian, but check it out.
The *Moment* label (CD) is dedicated to Indian music, and similar, employs audiophile recording equipment, some recordings live. Very good sound.