Moksha

Our 2014 release, MOKSHA,  has been nominated for Best World Album in Zone Music Reporter’s 11th Annual ZMR Music AwardsMoksha, is a collection of recordings made in 2001-03 and produced on the Simla House® label.The recording is the third in Ray’s Indo-jazz fusion recordings for the label (after “Sum and Kali”, and “Raga Jazz”).

Moksha inner sleeve info

Moksha inner sleeve info

With Ray Spiegel on Vibes and Tabla, Moksha features American Sarod (Lute of India) master Stephen James, Sarangi by Pandit Ramesh MisraIra Coleman on bass, Tani Tabbal on drums, and Barun Kumar Pal, Hansa Veena.

Indo-jazz fusion

The music is based on North Indian classical traditions. The Ray Spiegel Ensemble blends this with bass and drums for a unique blend of east and west. Influences are jazz, Latin, rock, soul, bhangra, and kirtan.

Review (excerpts)

New Age Music Reviews by Dana Wright

… All of the artists contributing to Moksha should be very proud of what they have put together. An album of rich culture and diversity, it speaks to Classical Indian techniques and instruments, but goes one step further in breaking down the barriers between the past and present. Jazz infusions blend with classic sound to create new landscapes for listeners to enjoy. Elements of Bollywood and street pieces intersperse with Afro-Cuban, Indian Folk and more. I for one feel privileged to have come across this remarkable album. If you will excuse me, I think I want to go listen to those popping little mushrooms again. Catchy little things. If you enjoy a window into world music at its best, try Moksha.

Music and Media Focus  by Michael Diamond

… Anyone who appreciates Indian or World music, and percussion in particular, will love Moksha. The level of musicianship is exceedingly high throughout, and I was often blown away by the incredible speed, dexterity, and mastery of Ray on the tabla drums. But equally impressive was the intricate interplay between the various instrumentalists. The Ray Spiegel Ensemble puts their own unique spin on Indian music that is charged with creativity and the integration of non-Eastern elements that make for an exotic listening experience.

Raga Jazz

Raga Jazz is a collection of songs that connects Indian classical, devotional, and folk melodies and rhythms with Jazz and Latin bass and drums in the unique style Ray has forged with the ensemble’s first release, Sum and Kali. Raga Jazz was released in 2004 by the Ray Spiegel Ensemble on the Simla House© label and the album subsequently has made it into the One World Music Top 50 Chart.

indo jazz fusion band

Ragas on the Indian slide guitar and sarangi sing beautiful melodies over carefully crafted grooves, with John Benitez‘ bass and Tani Tabbal’s drums locked in sync with Ray’s tabla. Barun Kumar Pal (slide guitar) provides soaring and beautiful melodies and solos, while complimented by the incredible Sarangi (bowed string instrument known in India as the “voice of 100 colors” ) played by master Ramesh Misra. Stan Scott plays the acoustic 6 string guitar on several tracks and also the harmonium, the acoustic keyboard of India. All are master musicians.

indo jazz fusion band

Ray Spiegel plays tabla and all other percussion.   These tunes and improvisations should evoke a dreamy, pleasant trance-like effect as they hover over our Indo-jazzy grooves with tanpura, 6 string guitar, and harmonium added to the mix on several tracks.

Ray Spiegel Ensemble includes:
Ray Spiegel, Tabla and Percussion
Tani Tabbal, Drums
Barun Kumar Pal, Indian Slide Guitar
John Benitez, Acoustic Bass

Also including
Ramesh Misra, Sarangi
Melanie Richeson, Tanpura
Stan Scott, Harmonium & Guitar
Ted Orr, Guitar

Produced and edited by Ray Spiegel

 

 

Sum and Kali

Ray Spiegel and Ramesh Mishra Woodstock, NY August 1997

Ray Spiegel and Ramesh Mishra Woodstock, NY August 1997

Tabla…Sarod…Sarangi…Bass…Drums…Vibes…the Goddess…the Vision…  Ray put it all together on Simla House’s© first release in 1997. 

Stephan James and Ira Coleman.

Stephan James and Ira Coleman.

Sum and Kali is an original blend of the music of India with jazz, rock, tribal, and Latin flavors played by master musicians on acoustic intruments under the direction of Japanese-American percussionist Ray Spiegel who has played tabla for over 30 years.
Compositions are based in Indian Classical forms combined with folk drumming, Jazz, Kirtan, Reggae, Latin , Rock with Tribal overtones. Sum and Kali is uplifting music for the soul combining virtuoso performances with a devotional edge, good for listening, meditation, and dancing.

Produced and arranged by percussionist and composer Ray Spiegel, Sum and Kali features some of today’s finest jazz and Indian musicians.  The lineup includes:
Ray Spiegel – Tabla Drums, Dholak, Dholki, Duggi Tarang, Vibes, Marimba, and assorted percussion.
Stephen James-Sarod, Guitar, Violin
Ira Coleman-Acoustic Bass
Mark Johnson- Drums
Bhagavan Das-Vocals, Ektara
Steve Gorn-Bansuri Flute
Ramesh Misra-Sarangi
Craig Handy-Tenor Saxophone<

 

Reviews

A smoking-hot percussionist and master tabla player, Ray Spiegel has put together a superb group of jazz and Indian musicians for the world-fusion Sum and Kali. Spiegel, who has worked with such luminaries as the Grateful Dead, builds captivating rhythms into divine music with bass, violin, tanpura, drums, vibes, sax, and percussion.

Steve Gorn plays bansuri with his usual flair. The delightful result is at once earthy and sublime, weaving seemingly disparate musical elements into a unique masterpiece. Favorite tracks include the bluesy “Colaba Blues”, with Ira Coleman’s liquid bass line and Stephen James on a soulful violin. “Ashes on the Beach at Puri” uses a reggae beat and tablas as the backdrop for sarod and electric guitar trading lead. “Kali Ma”, which Spiegel wrote with Jai Uttal and Bhagavan Das, is a nearly 16-minute romp thorough the far reaches of jazz and world fusion, featuring Das on vocals as well. – Steve Ryals, From New Age Retailer, July/August 2000

Mita Nag – Sitar

Mita Nag performs two North Indian classical ragas on the sitar: Raga Basant Mukhari evokes the spirit of sunrise in springtime, Raga Bageshree is associated with the meditative mood of the late night, released in 2004 by Simla House©.

Mita Nag

Mita Nag

In the realm of North Indian classical music, families have historically carried forth the traditions of specific lineages of singers, musicians and dancers teaching and innovating through the generations, sons (and more recently daughters) learning the secrets of their trade from fathers and grandfathers before them. Mita Nag hails from such a family, her father being Pandit Manilal Nag and grandfather the legendary sitarist Pandit Gokul Nag of the Vishnupur Gharana, or style of sitar playing of ragas.
Mita Nag began her training in sitar starting as a very young child and has steadily practiced and progressed to this day, when she is recognized as a leading exponent of sitar among her generation. Mita maintains a busy concert and recording schedule performing all over India and internationally as well. She is also well known for her duet concerts with her illustrious father, Manilal Nag. The expertise, wisdom, sensitivity, and technical mastery of her sitar playing is sure to enthrall and enchant all listeners.

Sacred Vibrations – Raka Mukherjee

Ray Spiegel with Tabla for raka mukherjee

Ray Spiegel – Tabla accompaniment on “Sacred Vibrations”

Raka Mukherjee headlines this 2008 release from the Simla House© label. Possessed with soothing voice that has been described as a “blanket of sound”, combined with masterful control, Raka Mukherjee takes us on a spiritual journey of ragas and devotional bhajans with roots in ancient India. Here she is accompanied by Ray Spiegel on tabla.

Raka Mukherjee

Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa

Thirakwa inside coverRecorded in Bombay, 1964, “Thirakwa-Bombay 1964” is a unique one hour tabla solo in Teen Tal (16 beat rhythm cycle) by Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa, one of India’s greatest percussionists who’s career spanned seven decades, recorded before a live audience of avid listeners. It was released in 1999 by the Simla House label.

Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa is indisputably known as one of India’s greatest percussionists of all time. In his lifetime he rose to national fame and recognition as a revered cultural treasure of India. Posthumously, he is now also receiving international recognition for his contribution to the music of India. He pursued his art relentlessly and excelled in all aspects of Tabla playing.

Ahmedhan Thirakwa Khan was born into a family of musicians in the North Indian town of Moradabad in the early 1880’s. He spent his childhood among close relatives all of whom were reputed tabla players of Moradabad. Young Ahmedjan was encouraged to practice tabla, and reveled in the rhythmic repertoire of his elders.

At an early age, Ahmedjan’s father and elder brother took him to Bombay and placed him under the tutelage of the great stalwart of the Tabla, Ustad Munir Khan under whom he trained for 25 years. His guru’s father gave him the nickname ‘Thirakwa’ because of his very restless and mischievous nature; a name which later turned into a legend! Under Ustad Munir Khan, Ahmedjan gained expertise in the Farukhabad, Delhi, Ajrada and Lucknow “baaj,” (styles) of Tabla playing.

The name ‘Thirakwa’ became famous all over India. He was one of the very few musicians of his time whose every concert met with astounding success. His powerful solos and majestic style of rendition itself became a stamp. His uncanny feats of endurance and boundless energy were legendary among musicians and fans. He accompanied all the important musicians and vocalists of his time both young and old.

During his performing career, Thirakwa received numerous awards from private organizations and the government of India. His death in 1976 was mourned by all musicians and music lovers in India and wherever his name was known.

 

 

Live in Los Angeles 1968

Aashish Khan

Aashish Khan (photo by Ira Landgarten)

Simla House is proud to present Live in Los Angeles 1968, a live recording of two of India’s greatest musicians, Aashish Khan on sarode and Ustad Alla Rakha on tabla recorded June, 1968 before an audience of musicians and students.

These musicians are world famous renowned masters of their art. Ustad Alla Rakha (1929-2000) rose from humble beginnings to become the most famous tabla player and teacher of the mid twentieth century as an accompanist of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and as a soloist in the Punjab Gharana (tradition) of tabla. In his life he recorded over 100 records and CDs, appeared in innumerable concerts in the most prestigious concert halls all over the world.

ustad-alla-rakha

Ustad Alla Rakha

Sarode maestro Ustad Aashish Khan hails from a musical family of the highest pedigree. He is the grandson of Ustad Allaudin Khansahib and the eldest son of master musician Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. He is one of India’s greatest living musicians and many agree that he is the premier performing artist of the sarode, the twenty-five stringed Indian lute. Today, Ustad Aashish Khan continues to maintain a busy concert and recording schedule and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006 for his recent recording with Ustad Zakir Hussain on Moment Records. He is also on the World Music faculty at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, and University of California Santa Cruz teaching North Indian classical music.When this recording was made, Aashish Khan was a young artist with a musical maturity beyond his years. He had recently arrived in the USA after spending his life in study of music under his illustrious grandfather in Maihar, India. While in his early twenties, he was performing with India’s greatest percussionist of the time, Ustad Alla Rakha, who was in the prime decade of his mid forties. While many recordings can be heard of Ustad Alla Rakha accompanying Pt. Ravi Shankar, those studio recordings were limited by time restrictions and the professional relationship to the sitar maestro. On this recording, Ustad Alla Rakha is heard in a totally different environment, free from restrictions of the recording studio and deference to Pt. Ravi Shankar. He plays with joyful abandon without limitation. We believe he has never been heard on any recording in such a situation.

Aashish Khan begins the performance of Rag Jhinjyoti, a joyful evening raga with the traditional Alap, the introductory segment without tabla accompaniment. He develops the raga slowly and carefully before starting the “gat” portion, where the tabla joins in. At this point we hear Ustad Alla Rakha begin with a beautiful flourish in his inimitable way as only he could do. They go on to develop the slow or vilambit gat, then the medium tempo of satsangat, (spontaneous playing together) and fast (drut gat) tempos.

Released Jan 2007, we hope you will agree that this is a recording for the ages; one that displays all aspects of the spiritual majesty of North Indian music and an important archive of an incredible evening of musical performance.