Ry Cooder, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - A Meeting by the River
A Meeting by the River
By Ry Cooder, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (1993) Audio CD
Very ++ Good Condition. Includes original artwork inserts, jewel case, and CD.
(1993) Audio CD
A Meeting By The River can best be described as a spontaneous outpouring of music, unhindered by convention or form, brought into being by musicians so supremely capable that the music is never labored, the technique of their craft always subservient to the final product. Cooder and Bhatt are genuine masters of the guitar and mohan vina, respectively. The latter, an instrument created by Bhatt himself, is a sort of hybrid between a guitar and a vichitra vina, and is played with a metal slide. This fact is just one of the many things that connect Bhatt's playing to Cooder's, who plays nothing but bottleneck guitar here. The musical interplay between Cooder and Bhatt is nothing short of astounding, especially so considering that they met for the first time only a half-hour before the recording of this album. The voices of the two instruments blend marvelously, first alternating melodic statements, then doing so together, each dancing around the other, playing cat and mouse, probing, answering, reflecting. They are ably accompanied by a pair of percussionists: tabla player Sukhyvinder Singh Namdhari and Cooder's own son, Joachim, on dumbek. AMeeting by the River is one of those few cross-genre albums in which the listener never feels for a second that there is some kind of fusion going on; one does not hear the component parts so much as the integrated whole. However, one can theoretically separate guitar from vina, America from India, the Mississippi from the Ganges. Once this is done, the resulting music makes more sense than ever before, the combination of two traditions of stringed instruments that use slides to produce sound and value improvisation and voice-like phrasing. As good as this sounds on paper, the actual results are even more impressive. The splendor of the music is aided in its transmission by the fact that, like all Water Lily Acoustics releases, this album is masterfully recorded; each instrument is clear, distinct, and three-dimensional sounding. A Meeting by the River is a must-own, a thing of pure, unadulterated beauty, and the strongest record in Cooder's extensive catalog.
Ry Cooder has long had an interest in other people's music, from the blues and gospel of black America through classic jazz and the music of Cuba. Even by this standard, his meeting with Mohan Vishwa Bhatt is certainly a departure. He is neither a serious student of Indian music nor in any way a master of its intricacies. Yet on his improvised session (this album was recorded without rehearsal in one evening), he and Bhatt truly collided musically and created moments worthy of the world-music Grammy they received for it. Bhatt is an iconoclastic character himself. He plays a modified box he calls the mohan vina that is a hybrid of a classical Indian instrument and slide guitar. He is long trained in the arduous classical style, yet his work has always demanded a lot of freedom. His duets here with Cooder are completely unique, liberating both artists from the usual constraints and creating a new musical style that is unlikely to be repeated or imitated. --Louis Gibson
1 A Meeting by the River V.M. Bhatt / Ry Cooder
V.M. Bhatt / Ry Cooder feat: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt 10:03
2 Longing V.M. Bhatt / Ry Cooder
V.M. Bhatt / Ry Cooder, feat: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt 11:56
3 Ganges Delta Blues V.M. Bhatt / Ry Cooder V.M. Bhatt / Ry Cooder
feat: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt 9:57
4 Isa Lei A.W. Caten 7:39