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Shakti: Tiny Desk Concert

It's hard to get past the significance of this performance by the Indian jazz fusion band, Shakti. Initially formed in 1973 by jazz guitarist John McLaughlin with virtuoso traditional Indian musicians, the band opened the doors for others to expand their musical appreciation beyond Western music. 50 years later, as guitarist McLaughlin reunites with tabla player Zakir Hussain to take Shakti on another world tour, the group stopped by for a magically inspiring performance behind the Tiny Desk.

"Shrini's Dream" sets the stage with both melodic and rhythm instruments, before vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan and McLaughlin each take turns calling out to the muse for inspiration. The entire set is a drummer's dream given Hussain is considered a master tabla player both within and outside the tradition.

Shakti's music has always been built around complex traditional rhythms and they are on full display with Hussain and Selvaganesh Vinayakaram. The band was born in the aftermath of McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra and "Lotus Feet" channels that band's hypnotic exploration of time and melody, while the aptly titled "Bending the Rules" mixes Indian traditions and the custom of jazz musicians trading licks back and forth, bringing this historic moment to an energetic close.

SET LIST

  • "Shrini's Dream"
  • "Lotus Feet"
  • "Bending the Rules"


MUSICIANS

  • John McLaughlin: guitar
  • Zakir Hussain: tabla
  • Selvaganesh Vinayakaram: kanjira, ghatam
  • Shankar Mahadevan: vocals
  • Ganesh Rajagopalan: violin


TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Felix Contreras
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Engineer: Neil Tevault 
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyounai
  • Photographer: Keren Carrión
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Josh Rogosin, Hazel Cills 
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.

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