INDO – WESTERN GENRE-TRIPPING WORLD-INSPIRED MASALA
LEHERA brings yet another angle to the exciting cross-pollinated musical landscape. From Indian Music to Blues, Jazz, Funk, and Worldmusic, they cook up a banquet of rhythm and melody that transports; from evocative ostinatos to haunting layered vocal and instrumental soundscapes. With their joyful blend of technique, thought-provoking lyrics, and potent emotional performances, Lehera is a spicy offering of song.
Serving up their genre-tripping vibe both energetic and contemplative, lehera dazzles with understated virtuosity and musically dense grooves. Vocals in English and Indian styles weave with Indian slide guitar, violin, and bamboo flutes driven by Ghatam (Clay pot drum), Konnakol (Carnatic drum language), and world percussion instruments underpinned with funky and bluesy guitar. A feast for the senses!
“Lehera was an absolute joy to have at our Festival this past summer. I highly recommend them!” – Doug Cox, Artistic Director, VIMF
“Thank you for your passionate and exciting performance. We enjoyed the different angle on world music. Very accessible yet unique!” – Alfredo Caxaj, AD, Sunfest
“The music has the rigorous qualities of [Indian] classical music and is also marked with the liberties that make up funk, folk and modern music”. – Joyce Janvier-Gagnon – Radio Canada
“[Lehera] …has given fusion a different dimension, mixing classical [Indian] with funk and jazz.” - The Deccan Herald, India.
“I firmly believe in the Lehera project. It has a lot of energy and is well played!” – Dave King, Bassist ( Dizzy Gillespie, Laurie Anderson, Jimmy Smith,Tina Turner, etc.)
HOW WE GOT TOGETHER
In March of 2005, a few weeks after experiencing the tsunami (which hit while I was playing guitar with the bhajan group in the temple at the ashram of Mata Amritanandamayi on the coast of Kerala,) and by circumstance, being involved in some of the relief activities, I proceeded to Bolpur in Bengal where I lived, studied and played with Baul musicians Nitya and Sandya. From Calcutta, after a ten hour bus ride very often pock-marked roads, I arrived in Bangladesh. I spent three weeks there guesting on several recording projects of local producer Feisal Siddiqui. Bidding farewell to the troubled land of my childhood, I returned to Calcutta and embarked on the 36 or so hour train ride to Bangalore. I finally met with some of my favourite musicians and in my opinion pioneers of the most successful Indo-jazz fusion, T.A.S. Mani and R.A.Ramamani, principals of the Karnataka College of percussion.
One thing led to another and I was referred to Hindustani slide guitarist, Prakash Sontakke. We met, spoke, drank chai and played music, and within hours of meeting, felt as if, in Prakash’s words, “we had known each other musically for years. I could complement everything Prashant did in Hindustani, without distorting any of it.” Then came the question of a percussionist. As both of us preferred at the time to keep this project an acoustic and organic one, the natural choice was a close friend and musical colleague of Prakash’s, Karthik
Mani, who, it turned out, was the son of Mr. and Ms. Mani mentioned above.
Three days before I was to return to Canada, we rehearsed and spent a day in a Bangalore studio recording five pieces of music that I used to get us a small tour in British Columbia, Canada in 2006. We hope to enjoy exploring the possibilities of playing music not limited by culture and genre and that flows naturally from us. Inspired as we are by the variety of great music, how can we not want to include influences from any or all.
In 2011 the adventurous award winning Swiss vocalist Sarah Buechi joined the trio on vocals and sometimes piano. She recorded an EP and toured with lehera in 2011. Sarah currently lives in Ireland, where she performs with Dublin-based musicians and is head of the Jazz vocal department at Newpark Music Centre. She has studied and performed South Indian music specially Konakol (drum language) and is a most welcome addition to our forays into cross-genre/cultural compositions and improvisations. at present she is in New York for a years’ sabbatical to collaborate and study.
Peace — Prashant