Hailed as the duo that connects musical bridges between Indian classical and jazz genres, Satvik Veena maestro Pandit Salil Bhatt and German jazz guitarist Matthias Muller, with 11 years of their musical collaborations, have established themselves as the invincible young faces of Global music. In Chandigarh on Tuesday for a concert at the invitation of Pracheen Kala Kendra, the duo shared its adventurous journey of musical jugalbandi with HT City.
Representing 500 years of old Jaipur Bhatt ancestry of Hindustani classical music, 41-year-old Salil Bhatt is the disciple and son of illustrious Grammy Award winning Mohan Veena creator, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Following in the footsteps of his father, Salil also carved a niche for himself in classical music at a very young age, lending a modern touch to his creations by inventing the improvised Satvik Veena. He won recognition for his prestigious performances at the Icelandic Parliament (in the presence of the then President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam, in 2005) and the German parliament later. He also has to his list the honour of being the first Indian musician to perform in Ireland, to perform in New Delhi in 1997 before Queen Elizabeth during her historic visit to India, besides various other national and international festivals. He is also the winner of Canada's Juno Award and has rightfully been decorated with the Mahakal Sangeet Ratan, Global Indian and the Prince of Ragas, to name a few. Presently, Salil treats Vancouver as his second home.
A graduate from the College of Music at Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany, Muller studied Western classical and jazz at the Munich Guitar Institute and Grove School of Music, Los Angeles, respectively. About his love for Indian classical music, he says, "Long ago, I heard an audio cassette of Carnatic music by a female singer; it touched my soul. Later, I happened to visit Bombay in 1994 with my girlfriend an ended up spending my first Indian rupee on a cassette by some Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. I was instantly enamored by his creation of vibrantly moving musical phrases, intellectual approach to compositions and the sheer grace his music had. Along with jazz, I pursued learning instrumental classical music, realising gradually that each raga has a soul, replete with emotions. The highlight of Indian music is its complex and variegated rhythmic patterns."
Talking about his journey further, he adds, "After many years, I happened to meet Salil Bhatt at a music conference in Switzerland and, excited as I was, approached him to know if he has ever heard of Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Salil, being his jovial self, answered by query sportingly and hugged me. Ever since, we have been music partners."
During the 25 years of his illustrious career, Salil has given over 500 performances in Indian and all top music venues around the world, many of which have been with Muller. Credited with seven albums, including two with Muller, the duo had received a Pre-Grammy nomination, which speaks volumes about their commended international collaboration. About the same, Salil says, "We never plan, pre-decide or rehearse together. Everything that happens on stage is spontaneous, with the grace of God."
Matthias has specialised in executing credential tihayis, gamaks, meend and complex tans, which transcend the audience to a state of trance.
The duo performs today at Pracheen Kala Kendra indoor auditorium, at 6.30 pm