Jodhpur RIFF 2017: TM Krishna's performance, 'Rustle' by Ram Sampath end fest on high note

Vandana Shukla

Oct,10 2017 20:07 24 IST

Carnatic music exponent TM Krishna shared the stage with Jogappa singers to conclude the 10th chapter of Jodhpur RIFF. He gave a vocal recital that can’t be framed into a single genre and will remain stamped in public memory for reasons that go beyond the confines of aesthetics. The maestro, known for having ruffled many feathers in the classical music fraternity, invoked goddess Lakshmi in his melodic offerings in the old temple courtyard of Jaswant Thada. As the sun ascended, and the artiste’s silhouette emerged, replacing the lustre of marble under the moon, the artistes accompanying TMK turned out to be from the lesser known gender-fluid community of Jogappas, from the Hubli-Dharwad region.

Master musicians from different parts of Rajasthan perform on the Main Stage at Jodhpur RIFF. Photo courtesy Jodhpur RIFF/OIJO

Master musicians from different parts of Rajasthan perform on the Main Stage at Jodhpur RIFF. Photo courtesy Jodhpur RIFF/OIJO

His collaborative work with the Jogappa community resulted in high energy, rhythmic musical conversations of a brilliance that makes art transcend its boundaries, related to gender, class and socio-economic politics. This music was fluid, invigorating and foot tapping. The dialect of the lyrics carried its own rhythm, to the accompaniment of folk instruments chaudki and shruti. In a collaborative musical dialogue, when TM joined the chorus, with instruments of accompaniment like mridangam and violin for the lyrics sung in the praise of goddess Yellappa, it was pure magic. TM concluded the concert singing the popular prayer, 'Allah tero naam, ishwar tero naam'.

The evening before, music lovers swayed to the tunes played on pastoral woodwind instruments like the surnaai and murli (shehnai and flute). Pempa Khan Manganiyar and Kambhir Khan Langa, wove a fresh tapestry of sounds. After the sounds of the desert music, the audience was mesmerised by Gypsy Jazz, by Nicotine Swing, from Canary Island. The band brought contemporary zing to the vintage sounds by playing new compositions that invoked both emotions and musical sensibilities of the times, when Gypsy Jazz emerged as a fresh style in 1930s. The audience loved them and couldn’t get enough of their music. The band owns its voice, beyond the limits of the style they play, that explains their immense popularity on a foreign land among listeners whose sensibilities are shaped with different sound patterns.

The purpose of Jodhpur RIFF is to invigorate dying folk arts by infusing fresh energies with collaborations and musical dialogues, even between unusual partners. Under this endeavour, two artistes from the North East gave a concert, introducing their unique art form to a jam packed Jaswant Thada. The artistes were surprised by the immense response generated by their concert in Jodhpur.

Manipuri vocalist Mangka, at just 21 years of age, carries an amazing maturity in her performance. She introduced the audience to the rare traditional art of Moirang Sai. She happens to be perhaps the only young woman who has dared to pursue Moirang sai, an art form that requires strict discipline to master a difficult voice culture and graceful dance movements. Her performance was a visual and aural delight. She was joined by the popular singer Rewben Mashangva, father of the Naga Blues, who enthralled the young audience by infusing few Bolywood lyrics in his concert. The young danced to his tunes, despite the barrier of language.

RIFF Rustle is a unique feature of Jodhpur RIFF, eagerly awaited by the audience, that concludes the evening concerts of the festival. The largest impromptu collaboration brings to one stage Rajasthani and international percussionists, musicians and singers to weave magic by collaborations that are neither rehearsed nor structured. One of the musicians is appointed as 'Rustler', who conducts a large number of artistes in one show, with artistes who might never have met before nor would, later on. The artistes enter in a musical dialogue with their partners on stage to weave magical moments. This year Ram Sampath was appointed the Rustler who conducted the artistes in pairs, quartets and all together to present the true spirit of collaboration. The sounds of stringed, wind and percussion instruments, from Rajasthan and other regions of the country and abroad, along with vocalists offered a fresh musical experience which had the charm of unpredictability.

It was not just a conclusion of revelries and dance, the many sessions conducted during the three-day music festival left the audience with a deeper insight into the lives of folk artistes whose traditions and practices are fast disappearing. Their performances and expositions were meant not only to entertain but also to rethink modernity.