July 22, 2016

Brij Bhushan Kabra: Lure of the Desert [ECSD 2993] (1985)

Brij Bhushan Kabra  was born in 1937 in Jodhpur. He is not as well known as he should be, but his records hold some well-deserved interest for a devoted listener. First of all he has produced undeniably charming performances on standard guitar, for which he apparently was a pioneer. In the manner of the great Shehnai master Bismillah Khan, Kabra took what had previously been strictly a popular or folk instrument and through talent and persistence made it acceptable as a classical instrument.

This LP is somewhat of a sequel to the massively popular album "Call of the Valley" which since its release in 1967 has held the mantle of "bestselling Indian Classical album of all time." I doubt very much that reliable statistics are kept of album sales in India, but there is no reason to doubt the continuing popularity of "Call of the Valley" which is still in print.

"Call of the Valley" featured santoor maestro Shiv Kumar Sharma, bansuri maestro Hariprasad Chausasia, Kabra on guitar, and tabla maestro Manikrao Popatkar. It was a concept album, supposedly following a shepherd in Kashmir as his day progresses, with appropriate ragas for each time of day. The general consensus seems to be that it was easier for Western audiences to accept an album with three soloists and percussion, especially as flute and guitar have been a part of western music for centuries.

This is a collection of Rajasthani folks songs, beautifully played by Kabra with sensitive arrangements by Y.S Moolky. Tabla by Fezal Quraishi (son of Alla Rakha and younger brother of Zakir Hussain) helps keep the music from descending into sentimentality.

The album was apparently reasonably successful and did manage to get a CD reissue at one time, but it is long out of print, rare, and rather overpriced on the collector's market.

Kabra has released at least a dozen other albums and I have four others  -- each one quite well recorded and musically satisfying. I don't have any of them on vinyl, however, so they won't be appearing on this blog.

Here is a video of Kabra performing Raga Shree at a house concert in 2003

Here is a video of a really lovely performance of Raga Malkauns, unknown date

high resolution file 

suitable for making an audio CD

for portable players such as iPod and smart phones


  1. Thank you for posting this very sweet music! I appreciate the hi-res files.

  2. Wow, this a pretty surprising find. One of my favorite albums of Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has the same title, perhaps it was in homage to the original maestro of Indian slide guitar. That would be news to me as Pt. Brij Bhushan Kabra is often left out of discussions with Bhatt about the origin of Mohan Veena.

    I recently scored an LP copy of Kabra's Two Raga Moods in reasonable condition at a record shop in San Diego, California. It was the first I had ever encountered for sale.

    Thanks for this gem!

  3. Thank you for all this hard work