Arts and Entertainment

Musicians bring the sounds of India to Vashon

Arjun Verna has been called the Wynton Marsalis of East Indian music.  - Courtesy Photo
Arjun Verna has been called the Wynton Marsalis of East Indian music.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

You don’t need to travel to India to hear the traditional melodies and beguiling rhythms of East Indian music. Islander Fletcher Andrews has arranged for classically trained sitarist Arjun Verma and tabla drummer Ravi Albright to bring the sounds of India to Vashon at a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Havurat Building.

Though dedicated to maintaining the purity of the sitar tradition he learned under the tutelage of sarode maestro Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar, Verma also experiments in the musical genres of Western classical, Celtic, jazz and even rock n’ roll, having performed with the likes of Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead. Verma attributes his innovative style to the musical approach of his father, internationally known sitarist Roop Verma, his teacher Akbar Khan and sitarist Nikhil Banerjee.

Andrews calls Verma the Wynton Marsalis of East Indian music because of Verma’s desire to maintain the integrity of the musical form. And Andrews, as Arjun Verma’s uncle, should know. He also knows that Ravi Shankar — a close family friend of the Vermas, who helped introduce the sound of sitar to the Western ear through his work with the Beatles — gave Arjun his name at birth.

Seattle-born tabla (an East Indian hand drum) player Ravi Albright is one of the few “ganda-banda” or formally recognized disciples of Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, renowned as one of India’s most eminent tabla players. In a formal ceremony in 2006, Albright made a lifelong commitment to his art through an initiation into one of India’s traditional schools of tabla playing. Albright performs throughout the United States and is the executive director of Seattle’s Anindo Chatterjee Institute of Tabla, which offers classes, workshops and performances.

Playing together, Verma and Albright are known for their hypnotic renderings of traditional North Indian music.

Purchase advance tickets, $10, at or at the door, $12.

—Juli Goetz Morser

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