Monday, June 25, 2012

Kesarbai Kerkar

Kesarbai Kerkar (1892-1977)

Kesaibai Kerkar is one hell of a voice. Very few female singers, or even male singers for that matter, have had such timber, strength and depth in their voice, while being so damn melodious at the same time. I got initiated into Kesarbai through the book The Music Room by Namita Devidayal. The book traces the days of learning music of three generations of musicians – the author herself from Dhondutai Kulkarni, Dhondhutai from Kesarbai Kerkar and finally Kesarbai from her guru Ustad Alladiya Khan, the doyen of the Jaipur gharana. Curious, I logged on to YouTube, and was blown away instantly. This was a few years back. At this time only three and a half minutes-long LP recordings of Kesarbai were there on the Youtube. Of course now, longer khyals, taped at private mehfils are available. While the LPs are compact and crisp presentations, not unlike grilled pieces of spicy meat, more like appetizers that leaves one craving for more, the bada khyals are like proper curry versions, where the depth of taste of the music remains untainted, but comes with a range of other flavours. Intricate in the little details of the alankar and habitually fluid in her taans, what makes these recordings extremely personal are her candid conversations in Hindi and Marathi that punctuate the otherwise unhindered flow of robust melody. From the moment it commences, Kesarbai’s voice is a dish that can’t be put down for a moment!

PS: Here are some of the select dishes:
                   Raag Malkaus | Kesarbai Kerkar (30:11 mins)
                   Raag Lalit | Kesarbai Kerkar (4:20 mins)
                   Raag Miyan ki Todi | Kesarbai Kerkar (3:20 mins)
                  Jaat kahan ho | Kesarbai Kerkar

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