We maybe don’t think much about the Greatest Hits album anymore – you grab what you need from wherever you are online; someone’s made a playlist if you haven’t. A YouTube run is easy enough – grab a few bites and move on.
Well maybe Anoushka Shankar is the perfect candidate for a Greatest Hits-type album and I’m certainly the perfect listener for it. I was hooked on her major label introduction, Rise (in 2005) and the albums that followed immediately: Breathing Underwater (with Karsh Kale) and 2011’s Traveller.
But then I just got busy listening to other things; I forgot to check in. Or if I did it was for a YouTube clip or two only (guilty as charged).
So how to catch up on the last decade proper?
Well Reflections does the business / is the business!
It’s all here, in snapshot-version.
Daughter and student of the late great Ravi Shankar, Anoushka was there by his side in concerts even after she had made a name for herself. But following her father’s cue she both mastered the Hinudstani classical music the instrument was made for and then went seeking to transcend the role of classical sitarist.
So here we are reminded of her prowess on the instrument (Guru: Raga Jogeshwari) and the various ways she bent that approach to accompany spoken word offerings from the western world (Remain The Sea – featuring Vanessa Redgrave) and lovely lilting Americana-tinged jazz (The Sun Won’t Set – featuring her half-sister Norah Jones).
From the dazzling finger control and flurrying speed of the lightning-runs on Si No Puedo Veria through the more gentle accompanist’s approach (Flight) and on to instrumental duets and collaborations with Karsh Kale (Burn) and her father (Pncham Se Gara) we get the long-game examples of a master musician.
Anoushka Shankar is now arguably the most recognisable name in the world when it comes to the sitar. And yes, there’s a legacy, her father did the groundwork. But her career has flourished, has moved in many directions, but has always felt pure.
And you’ll hear that here. The various twists and turns. And the magic that bursts from each tune.
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