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A Fusion Twist to Santana


The familiar guitar riff of a Santana number made way for a melodic sitar solo before a popular thumri line took over. The transitions were smooth, and the surprises were many.

On Saturday night, sitar exponent Purbayan Chatterjee and his band paid tribute to Latin-rock giant Santana by interpreting tunes in their own Indo-fusion manner. The second part of the Jim Beam Originals series, presented by Paytm Insider and curated and promoted by Turnkey Music & Publishing and Music Plus, it impressed with its sheer energy and improvisation.

Chatterjee began with the popular Black Magic Woman, penned by Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, and from the word go, one had an idea what one was in for. Sangeet Haldipur played dazzling keyboards, besides singing. Rickraj Nath displayed wonderful tone and control on his guitar, and was in supreme form on Into The Night. While percussionist Shikhar Naad Qureshi was tight, Gayatri Asokan sang both Indian semi-classical parts and English lines.

The old hit Oye Como Va was preceded by a short Punjabi bhangra tune, to pun on the word ‘Oye’. On Smooth, originally featuring Rob Thomas, lines from the semi-classical Aaja Balam Pardesi came as a pleasant surprise, and Maria Maria mingled with raag Hansadhwani. The Santana-Michelle Branch song The Game Of Love had a remarkable twist, with the use of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Sannu Ik Pal.

Old-timers may have missed a longish percussion solo and classic instrumentals like Soul Sacrifice, Samba Pa Ti and Europa. But as Chatterjee remarked in the post-gig chat, he had enough material to go on much longer. What was impressive throughout was the way the sitar was used as the dominant instrument in tunes one normally associates with the legendary Carlos Santana’s guitar.


While this was a treat for Santana fans, the next episode will feature Benny Dayal, who will present the songs of singer Bruno Mars. That will be worth checking out.

Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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