February 20, 2016

Jamaluddin Bhartiya: [SP 4] Seniormost Disciple of Ravi Shankar (c. 1973)

This lovely LP on the Amsterdam-based Space Records was likely issued sometime between 1972 and 1975, if the catalog numbering used by the label is assumed to be chronological. There is no indication of a date for either the recording or LP release on the sleeve or label.

As noted in the title of the record, apparently Bhartiya became the first disciple of Ravi Shankar in 1955. There is not a tremendous amount of information available about him on the web, so I can't verify or refute this. Apparently he also studied with the great vocalist Amir Khan and sang as well as played sitar at many of his concerts. I'm surprised there's not even a stub of an entry in wikipedia.

Jamaluddin Bhartiya was born in 1929 and died at the age of 83 in February 2012. He eventually moved to Amsterdam where he opened up a school. His most prominent student is sitarist Darshan Kumari who plays tanpura on this LP.

This is really a delightful performance of two wonderful ragas. The most common comment I could find about Bhartiya's style was that he "combined the Maihar style of Ravi Shankar with the vocal articulation of Vilayat Khan in his playing" -- which sounds like a nonsensical generalization produced more from the pressure of a deadline than actual thought (and I speak from experience as a former music journalist). However, I think there is something here that rings true. 

It's certainly a shame that Bhartiya's entire recorded catalog seems to consist of three LPs. As often happens in these cases, I tend to daydream about meeting his family and discovering a trove of unreleased recordings which I then issue carefully on my record label. 

Until that unlikely day, we have both this recording and also this well-respected audiophile recording transferred at the long dormant "Anthems for the Nation of Luobaniya" blog.

Side 1: Raga Charukeshi

Side 2: Raga Jog

Tabla: Zamir Ahmed Khan

Tanpura: Kumari Darshan

Equipment used in transfer:

Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove a few enormous noises per side using the "repair" and "amplify" [in "negative amplification" mode] tool. No change in EQ was made. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. Files were compressed to "zip."

Despite my best efforts at cleaning the LP, there was still quite a bit of groove noise as well as a surprising number of clicks which had to be removed -- more than 30 per side. Against my usual policy, I utilized Audacity's "click removal" effect and also applied very gentle noise reduction to these files. I think it is as good as I will obtain using this specimen and my equipment.

Some otherwise unobtainable recordings by Jamaluddin Bhartiya: