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Remember Shakti: The Way of Beauty

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Remember Shakti: The Way of Beauty + Shakti + Remember Shakti: Saturday Night in Bombay
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A 60 minutes documentary film Shakti Timeless, which tells the story of the indo-western music group Shakti. Formed in 1975, the group pioneered a groundbreaking and highly influential musical East-meets-West approach. In the 70s, the group, whose name means creative intelligence, beauty and power, consisted of legendary British jazz guitarist John Mclaughlin, North Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain and violinist L. Shankar and ghatam (percussion) player T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram, both of whom hail from South India. Together, they created a fluid and organic sound that managed to successfully combine seemingly incompatible traditions. After a number of very successful live concerts and albums they disbanded. The group was reformed in 1997 under the name 'Remember Shakti' with new talent from India like V. Selvaganesh who replaced his father Vikku and the young prodigy Mandolin U. Shrinivas who replaced L. Shankar. in 2000, the young Indian Classical singer Shankar Mahadevan joined the group as the first vocal element in the group.

Review

East-West fusions are so common now that the idea of a British guitarist with a jazz-rock pedigree mixing it up with Indian classical musicians raises no eyebrows. But in 1975, when John McLaughlin debuted Shakti, the concept and the music itself were downright alien, especially in comparison to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which McLaughlin had just disbanded. Here was McLauglin sitting cross-legged, surrounded by Zakir Hussain's tablas, L.Shankar's Indian violin and Vikku Vinayakram on the ghatam, a bowl-like percussion instrument. McLaughlin had traded in his double-necked electric for an acoustic, found commonalities in places few had previously explored and, with his new cohorts, taken it all somewhere new. By 1977 it was over.

Remember Shakti, the reconstituted iteration of of the group that came together in the late '90s, is softer, more nuanced and less showy than its younger predecessor. From the earlier lineup, only McLaughlin and Hussain remain. U. Shrinivas on mandolin, V. Selvaganesh on kanjira, ghatam and mridangam, and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan fill out the group, and although the general approach has not changed radically, it's a more mature Shakti showcased here in performance footage filmed in Bombay in 2000 and Montreux four years later. In interviews that supplement the live music, both McLaughlin and Hussain recall the bond they formed upon first meeting in the '70s. They were, says Hussain, "like two minds, two thoughts, one action."

That telepathy still exists between the pair as well as the others. On "Giriraj Sudha," the opening number from Bombay, the rhythms are airtight and the playing mesmeric, even as McLaughlin's guitar sits out much of the tune, the co-leader preferring to clap his hands in wide-arcing forward movements. When he does hit the strings, he does so with a more graceful, unhurried touch than he ever would have considered in the '70s.

To underscore the differences, '70s footage of the first Shakti, and even some brief Mahavishnu, is generously interspersed. Although Hussain now utilizes electronic percussion in addition to his tablas, Remember Shakti somehow seems even more organic and single-minded than the pineering group being remembered.
- Jeff Tamarkin --JazzTimes - June 2008

A concert in support of the 2000 CD Saturday Night In Bombay offers the first of three concerts. The other two are excerpted Montreux shows from 1976 and 2004. Going from color to black and white to color (a distraction), the Bombay show offers proof of what the CD could only hint at: the picture of relaxed intimate creative expression among members - intense, traditional and jazzy. In the morphing Shakti and Remember Shakti, the melding of classical Indian technique and Western jazz improvisation finds the perfect expression.
- John Ephland --DownBeat - July 2008


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain
  • Directors: Partho Sen Gupta
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sunny Side Records
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013D8LPE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,341 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 28, 2009
I'll keep this review brief; there is simply not alot for me to say, as music like this speaks for itself. You will be hard-pressed to find another group of musicians who both look and sound so joyous in performance. Everyone in this group is as much a music-lover as they are a music-player. Smiles and laughs abound amongst the bandmates, and at times their improvisations sound more mirthful and giddy than the musicians themselves, and that's saying alot! If this performance doesn't bring a smile to your face, I fear you're beyond hope.
Add to this a wonderful feature-length interview with Messrs. McLaughlin & Hussain, documenting the history of this groundbreaking band, as well as classic clips of performances by the original Shakti (and even one of the 1st Mahavishnu Orchestra!) and you have a DVD package that's worth twice it's price. 5 stars +++
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leonardo Mirenda on October 31, 2010
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For example the Montreux one (the one in 1976) is absolutely great. They filmed just one song, "Joy", that features naturally John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain (the two founding members of Shakti) on Guitar and Tabla, and L. Sankar rocking the hell out of his violin, and T.H. "Vikku" Vinaykram on the gatham, a percussion similar to a giant jar. This performance is particularly powerful, all the musicans are in great form!
The same thing about two of the three songs on the more recent (John hair was white) "Live at Bombey" performance. The first one, for example, is great: it's called "Giriraj Sudha" and it features V. Selvaganesh on various percussions, Shankar Mahavadenon the voice (a very strong point on this song), A. K. Pallanivel on the tavil, another indian percussion, John, Zakir and the phenomenal mandolin player U. Shrinvas that wrote the song as well. The melody and the rhythm of this song is so frenetic, and even if John doesn't play a lot on it, the mandolin is still great
The weak point of this performance is of course the next song: "Shringar", featuring Shiv Kumar Sharma on the santur, a strange string instrument played with sticks. This song consist in a boring quarter-hour santur solo. Then percussions start to play, and it becomes more interesting. Only when John touches his strings the song touches the apex, but the rest of it is absolutely boring.
The best song on this performance is the last one: "Bell'alla", written by Zakir (the tabla player), that features also Bhattacharya, an incredible slide guitar player (the slide guitar is not the classic occidental one, but the indian one, that sounds like a sitar) and Sivamani, a drums player, probably with jazz influences.
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I've been following McLaughlin since the mid 1970s, but I've never before gotten such an in-depth presentation about this underappreciated group.

Musically, you get both old Shakti and new Shakti; in my opinion, every iteration of this group has produced some of the most vital and inspiring music on the planet. The sound quality is surprisingly good, even on the 1970s material - it's almost as good as on the Columbia Shakti releases. The video quality's at best OK on the older material, but what can you expect?

The interviews section goes into great depth - and told me much I didn't know - about how Shakti originally came together, how it reformed, and how it came to so gracefully combine various aspects of Indian and Western music. I learned much about Indian music in the process. One of my favorite moments is a brief tabla solo by Hussain, which shows both his extraordinary skill and the incredible range of his seemingly simple percussion instrument.

I rented this off Netflix but I'm buying a copy.
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I saw Shakti when they performed in Mannheim, West Germany in 1977. Their energy and musicianship just blew me away. This DVD tells the story with interviews, and video clips of John, Zakir, and others of how the band was formed and how they evolved. It was fascinating to hear that CBS just could not find a market for their recordings. Their re-formation as Remember Shakti brings back all of the electricity I experienced when I saw them the first time. The breadth and depth of John McLaughlin's musical talents is absolutely stunning. To top that off, both Zakir and John emerge as two very articulate individuals who can talk evocatively about their music as well as being able can play the hell out of their instruments. Five stars.
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John McLaughlin should be rewared by Indian government for the promotion of this Asian Power culture by "Shakti" and other projects which brought us closer to that music and became classic of the fusion of Western instruments and style of playing with Eastern expression of the music
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