A troika of talents and a triad of musical traditions. Certainly, it’s a treat of crossovers in store. The Crossover Project, which brings together mridangam and khanjira exponent Charu Hariharan, Spanish vocalist and composer Carola Ortiz and guitar maestro Santhosh Chandran this Valentine’s Day, is perhaps a first-of-its-kind gig that fuses the best of jazz, Carnatic and flamenco music.
Charu points out that the project is more than just a fusion. “We have named it so as we need a crossing over, considering the breath and depth of the amalgamation. I feel the definition of ‘fusion’ sort of conveys the idea of merely a meeting point. But this project endeavours to venture beyond that contour for an organic musical blend rather than a sequenced mixture,” she says.
The concert, organised by Women of Rhythm, in the city marks the musicians’ final pit-stop of the six-city country-wide tour that has taken them to Mumbai, Baroda, Pune, Chennai and Kochi.
Charu speaks about the “discovery” of friendship and “a musical symbiosis” that is at the heart of the project’s genesis. “I first met Carola during the 2016 International Guitar Festival in Kolkata at an event by (slide guitarist and former Grammy nominee) Debashish Bhattacharya. We developed a good vibe right away, perhaps due to the shared aesthetics and love for music,” remembers Charu.
Their first collaboration came for an album they worked in for vocalist Anandi Bhattacharya, daughter of Debashish. “As we started collaborating, we didn’t want to stay in our comfort zones and pushed the envelope,” explains Charu.
By then, Carola had already released a solo album, Sirin, the title a reference to an eponymous half-human, half-bird figure in Russian mythology. The duo then banded together for Carola’s 10-song, second album, Spirala, predominantly based on jazz and instrumentation, infused with pop and Indian ragas, that came out in January last year. It was partly inspired by Mediterranean music as well.
Though The Crossover Project is headlined by only three artistes, Charu says its musical canvas is sweeping and features original compositions by all three. “Carol is trained in western classical and jazz and my strong point is Carnatic. And it’s not just a blend of songs but a blend of elements too from the respective musical tradition. Each of us will be playing or singing the others’ works,” says Charu, calling the one-and-a-half-hour long performance an “experience.” Charu’s brother and vocalist Sreekanth Hariharan and keyboardist Bhuvanesh Narayanan joined the trio in some of the previous performances of the tour.
Carola, who sings and composes in English, Spanish and Catalan, hopes that, on a personal level, the project marks the “beginning” for further fruitful collaborations. “This has inspired me to come more often to India and try and collaborate with not only Charu but other musicians as well,” she says. “This endeavour by two women from such different cultures, doing something for love and respect for each other and connecting beyond the music is a novel experience for me,” adds the Barcelona-based musician, who also plays the clarinet. Having her base in jazz and classical, Carola says she has now been focussing on folk music of the Mediterranean region.
For Santhosh Chandran, part of the crossover band Arka, joining hands for the project was an easy decision as “the idea was something I could easily relate to”, apart from his friendship with Charu with whom he has collaborated for his Tamil songs previously. “I have worked on crossover pieces on numerous occasions and I found the novelty of this package alluring as a guitarist, especially rendering Indian ragas in flamenco-style,” adds Santhosh, who formerly strummed the guitar for Kochi-based rock band Motherjane.
‘The Crossover Project’ will be held at Ganesham, Thycaud, at 6.30 pm today (February 14). Tickets are available on Paytm Insider and also at the door. Contact: 9809119011