Bay Area's Annual Didjeridu Fix To Be Satiated Friday

Categories: Music

Our Indian and eastern music writer Andrea Pflaumer brings us word of a didjeridu hoe-down this Friday. -ed

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Down under Meets over the Top
by Andrea Pflaumer

Some curious concoctions, like chocolate/garlic sorbet, are best left in the minds of wannabe chefs on the Food Channel. Others, like Teed Rockwell's Australian Bebop Ragas, serve up a mighty tasty fare. On Friday, October 5th, Berkeley's Freight and Salvage hosts Rockwell's ABR trio, featuring Stephen Kent on didjeridu, Sameer Gupta on tabla and drums, and Rockwell on his own uniquely tuned and strung Chapman Stick Touchstyle Fretboard.

As ‘raga’ suggests, the music is rooted in India, but the performers are given license to draw on each of their global influences. Rockwell, a long-time presence in the traditional music scene, is another Bay Area alum of the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael. After years of performing music from South America, China, Africa and Ireland, he eventually returned to his first love, North Indian Hindustani ragas. He describes their appeal: “[Ragas] have the intellectual subtlety of quantum physics, the spiritual profundity of the Vedas, and the heartfelt emotion of a lover’s cry.”

Percussionist Sameer Gupta, also no stranger to the East, brings maturity from the jazz genre, counting among his influences Mingus, Miles and Coltrane. Gupta’s self-described ‘sonic samurai’ persona, brings to this music ...

the reverence it demands without losing his characteristic rhythmic ferocity: “Indian music has that (spiritual) cultural context. We’re trying to do justice to those traditions in a classical way.” Gupta has played both drums and tabla with global avantrock and ‘free jazz’ heavyweights like Mark Cary’s Focus Trio, the Supplicants, and Prasant Radhakrishnan’s San Francisco jazz/South Indian music group, VidyA.

Australian native Stephen Kent’s didjeridu masquerades as an oversized tanpoura – the delicate stringed instrument that usually provides a background drone for Indian ragas. At the Trio’s Caffe Trieste debut in Berkeley this Spring, Kent laid down a funky drone and biting rhythms that shook the floorboards and got the audience jumping away from their lattes. Having also bridged several cultures, (he has lived in Africa, England and Spain) Kent sees the didj as a "primal communication tool." That might explain why local diners exiting the restaurant down the street, were hypnotically drawn to the cafe when the trio played there in March.

Friday, October 5, 8 pm Freight and Salvage, www.thefreight.org, 1111 Addison, Berkeley (510) 548-1761 $18.50 in advance, $19.50 at the door


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