Vishwa Mohan Bhatt teams up with Eric | india | Hindustan Times
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Vishwa Mohan Bhatt teams up with Eric

The Grammy winning virtuoso musician is set to team up with legendary British guitarist Eric Clapton on a fusion album.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 17:18 IST

It was in 1994 that Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the virtuoso musician and creator of Mohan Veena, won the Grammy Award along with guitar guru Ry Cooder.

Twelve years later, Bhatt is again set to create ripples by teaming up with legendary British guitarist, singer and composer Eric Clapton.

From his Grammy winning World Music Album A Meeting by The Riverof 1994 to teaming up with Clapton for a forthcoming fusion album, Bhatt is on a roll.

"I am leaving for London next week for my concerts. I will be seeing him (Eric) there and we will do something together," Bhatt told IANS in an interview."

"He participated in a concert here Sunday with renowned Benaras gharana vocalist Soma Ghosh.

"Our album will have both vocal and guitar. We will combine the two. I like Eric's guitar playing a lot," said Bhatt, who stole international limelight with the Mohan Veena - his Indianisation of the western Hawaiian guitar by assimilating the sitar, sarod and veena techniques.

"During my earlier interaction with Eric he said he likes Indian classical music. I asked him if he would like to do something with the Mohan Veena and he expressed his desire to work with me," said Bhatt, who immensely liked Clapton's Tears and Heaven, the 1991 soundtrack for the film Rush but dedicated to his (Eric's) dead child Conor.

"When I make music with Eric my emphasis would be on improvisations. Improvisation is a big strength of Indian classical music. We Indians have all of it in the mind," said Bhatt, whose association with Clapton grew stronger since 2004 when he played at the famous Albert Hall in London in memory of late Beatles George Harrison in a concert organised by Clapton.

"He had heard me playing before. He invited me to play independently in a concert at Dallas in USA in 2005 where legends like Carlos Santana (Grammy winning Latin rock guitarist) played. My two-hour-long rendition at Grassroots Guitar Festival there was before a crowd of 100,000 and recorded on DVD for release," said Bhatt.

While Bhatt is aiming high with his proposed fusion album with Clapton, his most recent work is another fusion album with German guitarist Mathias Muller.

"London-based Sans World Record has already recorded the album and the release would be in September. The album has classical and folk contents," he said.

"We musicians worldwide speak the language of music. I have made music with Chinese and Arabs. Our Grammy winning album (A Meeting by the River) was made in one day," said Bhatt.

The famous Mohan Veena player is, however, at pains to explain the crunch situation faced by the classical music tradition in India because of lack of sponsorship.

"I think classical Indian music should be patronised by the corporates, media and television channels. If there can be channels on animals why not a channel dedicated completely to classical music," Bhatt said.

"Also, I think people like Bollywood stars should be used to promote it. If Amitabh Bachchan or Aishwarya Rai anchor a programme then it is quite natural that there would be bigger audience for classical music," he said.

"I would urge the Ambanis and Subrata Roy's (Sahara) to give us at least one percent of what they spend on cricket. Remember, internationally India is known neither for cricket nor football but for its cultural heritage and classical music.

"We never come back home losing a match," said Bhatt, who has performed worldwide, including in at least 200 American cities and towns.

"It is unfortunate. In Dallas I get so much appreciation; in Kuwait people wait outside auditoriums to listen; and in Singapore our shows are booked full three months in advance. But here we have no patronage," said Bhatt.

He, however, praised the audience in West Bengal, Maharashtra and south India for their depth.

"I would rank Kolkata first, followed by Maharashtra and south India as far as listeners are concerned," Bhatt said.