Writings about Music

Under Jakaranda-Tinted Skies

Aashish Khan, Allauddhin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar

No easy task to emerge from the illustrious family lineage of Allauddhin Khan and Ali Akbar Khan, but Aashish Khan has managed to follow his grandfather and father in grand, unsurpassed fashion. 

Last night in Valencia, under jakaranda-tinted skies, Aashish Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri illuminated the genius of Indian classical music in stellar form. Prior to the performance, composer, pianist and educator, David Rosenboom, related to me how the previous evening concert was visited by wild, whipping winds, but last night the ambience was serene, including a lovely jewel-like crescent moon over the Wild Beast; the name for the splendid indoor-outdoor music pavilion at CalArts where the concert took place as part of the yearly World Music and Dance Festival.

Subtleties of dynamics, phrasing, intonation and articulation flow from Aashish's fingers like droplets of rain from a monsoon. An uncanny sense of timelessness and spaciousness informs his playing, and I envisioned Haridas drawing water from a rushing forest stream. Such intertwining of poetry and power is rarely found in one artist. The quality of musical invention proffered by Khan and Chaudhuri was easily comparable to Bach and Beethoven compositions.

An openhearted playfulness was the rasa shining brightest last night, with sarod and tabla lilas of melodic and rhythmic arabesques inspiring several in the audience to begin dancing. Sitting on the highest level away from the stage, I enjoyed tapping a variety of rhythms with my fingers, and after using a discreet sideways rubbing motion with one finger on the opposite wrist, Aashish coincidently stopped playing and began filing what appeared to be a finger nail (?) with a similar movement.

On this memorable night, enhanced by some divinely scented incense someone in the audience was thoughtful enough to bring, Aashish and Swapan released the full potency of ragas Marwa, Jhinjhoti and Mishra Shivranjani. What tremendous inspiration they provide!

- Michael Robinson, April 2017, Los Angeles


© 2017 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


*My preference is to spell Jakaranda with a "k".


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).