Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Folk music of Kashmir recorded by Verna Gillis in 1972



Kashmir, 1972
Verna Gillis writes in a blurb to this video at her Soundscape You tube Channel:

In 1972, travelling in India with Brad Graves, it was 115 degrees - the rains were late and we were sweltering in the heat. We flew to Kashmir, lived on a house boat for two weeks, and recorded music which was released on Lyrichord Discs now available as a CD - LAS 7260

Verna Gillis as a producer came at a time when few had heard the term ‘world music’ and she, according to many, was the one who kick started this genre of music.

According to Robert Palmer, one time chief pop critic of The New York Times and one of her earliest supporter:
''She [Verna Gillis] came along at a time when all this music from around the world was becoming relevant to jazz and pop and new classical music. There wasn't anyone else who could move between ethnomusicology and presenting. She was open to all sorts of music. She was a synthesist. She created a larger dialogue.''
From 1972 and right up till 1978, Gillis recorded traditional music in places as varied as Afghanistan, Iran, Kashmir, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Peru, Surinam, and Ghana. In 1979, she opened Soundscape (that closed in 1984), a multi-cultural performance space in New York City, which she directed for the next five years. In year 2000, she was nominated for a Grammy in the Producer category.

The fact that Kashmir was one of the first destinations for her musical journey and that Kashmiri music found space in world music might surprise many.

Recorded on a houseboat on waters of famous Dal Lake, Eli Mohammad Shera and others sing Sufi songs of love and devotion. In addition, there are several instrumental solos and duets bringing fore the melody of traditional folk instruments of Kashmir. The chatter of artists going on in the various tracks of this album only adds charm to it and bears testimony to the unassuming origin of the album.

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You can check out sampling of songs from the album and even buy it below.
(Do check out the third track Rebab solo for its seemingly Irish sound)

Listen now


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Video courtesy of Soundscape, do check out the website of Soundscape for more info. on Verna Gillis

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