Hymn of the Ancients recording session

WHAT is it with TABLA players?? They are like the Opera DIVAs of the east.

Order my food? Drive me around? Buy my plane ticket? First class only! …I have almost had it with ‘em! Oud players, rik players, Sitar players, Kalimba players, NO PROBLEM. But Tabla??? Sheeeeesh.

So here we are with a 5-day recording session booked for, Hymn of the Ancients, the follow up to Flat Planet, this time for the legendary Delmark Records, Steve Wagner producing.

TABLA player no. 1 cancels cuz of bad planning and no VISA. TABLA player no. 2 calls me and calls me, “ very important”, ”urgent” and “pls call” emails and texts, only to cancel as well 2 days before session. Oh well.

Enter SUPER TABLA Shivalik Ghoshal!

Thankfully, I had helped get Shiva on the Broadway production of Jungle Book at The Goodman Theatre, and they are in town during our session. So he jumps in a cab and we track basically 8 tunes in ONE day.

SHIVALIK GHOSHAL!! Wow. Blessings to you man. You saved the day! And this was apparently his FIRST professional recording date. All you other Tabla players LOOK OUT. Cause this guys grooves, plays his booty off, has great ‘hands’. AND he shows up.

Tabla is so important to this record because the idea (is finally becoming a reality after discussing it with producer ‘WAGADELIC’ Steve Wagner) is to use TABLA as the drumset instrument, and electronic percussion and ‘western drums’ as the color. You see a Tabla is a set of two drums one high and one low, that typically play a ‘snare’ and ‘kick’ part. Usually mixing that with a western drumset does not really work, cuz they BOTH end up playing the conflicting ‘snare’ and ‘kick’ parts.

This record, I wrote the music on my iPad, so loops and percussion parts are somewhat worked out, and we need to lay the music TABLA – Shiva Ghoshal and electronic perc – Greg Fundis – live.

It all worked so beautifully. Sometimes you know it’s meant to be. The great Tony Monaco was here in town, since we had just played a three day set of gigs… and I’m thinking duh? It makes total sense to get some B3 on this record, since Delmark has a GREAT B3, and Tony is here anyway. Voices and oud from Dima Orsho and Essam Rafea. Voice, kalimba and balophone from Mathew Tembo. Brazilian percussion from Clarice Cast, Syrian percussion from Omar Almusfi. Bass flute from Zach Weiss. That’s some LOW ass flute! Big Phat Bass from Alex Austin. Piano and Rhodes from rising star Willerm Delisfort. And the divine sitar of Indrajit Banerjee. We went with the flow, and everything got recorded.

Wag even pulled out some surprises. I had a few short classical things I wanted to record. Written around the turn of the century, music of Villa Lobos and Satie, reinterpreted with OUD and Percussion. We decided to pull out the cool vintage 78 acetate cutter and record some actual 78s. Cut direct to disc, just like they did it back in the day. All sitting around one mic…balancing by moving closer or further from the mic…then GO! Don’t stop for anything, one take! No overdubs! No flubs! Hit it ‘n Quit it. What fun. One plays differently when it’s for keeps. More energy and drive, more concentration. Well, basically MORE FEAR. But in this case it actually helps.

Now we are off to TOUR.