India 1974

FLASH: These recordings have now been released by Fire Museum Records.
Here is the link. They are beautifully remastered and editied with more complete information.

Although I cannot consider myself in any way an Indian Music specialist, over the years I have made many visits to India, the first in 1964. With the assistance of many Indian friends, Ravi Shankar, Balasaraswathi, Visawanathan, Amir khan, Chatturlal, T. Brinda, Villayat khan and so many others, (to drop just a few names)I managed to learn something and at least to develop a keen appreciation of this music.

These particular recordings were made with the assistance of T. Ranganathan at his home in Madras.

The Nathamuni Band


Some Reviews


a review of the Nathamuni Brothers from the Cleveland Scene:

”While traveling South India in the mid-'70s, anthropology prof Robert Garfias crossed paths with the seven-member Nathamuni Brothers. But forget the whole Ravi Shankar-with-sitar stereotype. That's primarily North Indian music, which drones far more than the busy, almost manic brass bands popular at the southern end of the country. The Nathamuni Brothers employ Western instruments (saxophone, clarinet, trumpet) and traditional percussion to create a form of world-jazz fusion that nicks tricks from Middle Eastern grooves, Indonesian folk music, and English military bands. The group's high-pitched melodies, winding runs, and nervy drum whacks have much in common with Don Cherry and Albert Ayler's free-jazz explorations of the '60s, which looked to global folk sounds for inspiration. “-Justin F. Farrar

reviewed in The Wire!

Both the Nathamuni Brothers and Keijo are reviewed in recent issues of The Wire. The complete Nathamuni Brothers review appears in the November issue, Keijo in December. Here are the highlights! (After all I have to type these out…)

Nathamuni Brothers – Madras 1974
Leader Lakshimipathi Naidu squeals fluently on high-pitched E flat clarinet. Kriti melodies by early 19th century composer Tyagaraja are cherry devotional hymns, performed in unison by two clarinets, sax, trumpet and euphonium. Then short ragas are combined into medleys, over wonderful swaying beats from a double-headed drum and the chink of finger cymbals. Some tunes quote western brass directly: a quick warm up waltz and a so-called “English Note”, which turns out to be an incongruous version of the reel “The Irish Washerwoman”

There are occasional echoes of Albert Ayler’s raids on themarching band tradition, but although the surface may be busy, with clarinetist and drummer taking turns to display virtuosity, there is a massively relaxed quality to the whole thing. You can hear that, for all its oddity, this group sit astride centuries of oral tradition.”
-Clive Bell

appearing in the next issue of the excellent Dream Magazine. First, Nathamuni Brothers:

Nathamuni Brothers Madras 1974 (Fire Museum) The Nathamuni Brothers were a seven piece South Indian band that played their own distinctive variations on Indian classical themes on clarinets, alto sax, baritone horn, and trumpet, along with tavil, talam, and harmonium drone. But they are quite playfully inventive as they incorporate traces of Scottish folk, and a tin pan alley waltz and much more into their material. Performed on the patio of a friends house in Madras, this was recorded by musicologist Robert Garfias one afternoon in 1974. Very tangible and accessible, this feels like marvelous music made by human beings, masterful they may be, but you can feel the muscle, mind, breath and heart behind their playing. Not sweetened or produced, their powerful natural magic is all in the moment. The sounds here bring to mind sacred Indian mysticality, trance-inducing rhythmic interactions, woozy cartoon themes, Turkish music, jazz, New Orleans marching bands, gospel, klezmer, and lots more along the way.


8.1.2007: Out for just 2 days now, Madras 1974 by the Nathamuni Brothers is at #3 on the KUSF world music chart as of this writing, and has been getting substantial airplay on WFMUand other outlets as well.












June 23, 2007
Robert Garfias