“I’ve seen a lot of tabla, but this is the first time I have seen it played like this!” exclaims an enthusiastic tabla-lover after experiencing Talavya. Talavya is Divyang Vakil’s creation, an India-based musical collective where four of his students play the tabla synchronously, producing a reverberating encounter that is sure to create an ever-lasting memory. Talavya is also where one sees Vakil’s own mark on performing the tabla drawn from an amalgamated interpretation of three different gharanas of tabla education, headed by the three stalwarts: Sudhirkumar Saxena (Ajrada gharana), Latif Ahmed Khan (Delhi gharana), and Allarakha (Punjab gharana).
In an upcoming series of concerts, student-artistes Rushi Vakil, Kaumil Shah, Sahil Patel, and Rahul Shrimali will present what was formerly known as Table Ecstasy, a profound blend of classical tabla-playing set to a modern presentation style. They will be joined on stage by Heena Patel who will play harmonium. The group leader and son of Divyang Vakil, Rushi Vakil, says the “goal is to present Indian classical music in a contemporary language that can be enjoyed by more people.” Rushi Vakil is also known for his own world fusion music group called Taan.
Heena Patel says, “People don’t expect the feelings involved, perhaps because they don’t think rhythm can do the same things emotionally as melody. As Guruji tells us, you smooth out the edges and perfect the contours to make music, otherwise it’s just drumming.”
Based out of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Divyang Vakil’s Rhythm Riders Music Institute has produced quality tabla players who seem to play the instrument with a spiritual feel. This is not surprising, as in addition to being famous as a tabla guru and composer, Vakil is popular as a spiritual teacher and healer as well. Vakil’s belief is that “the ultimate goal is one and the same: the experience of Truth, which occurs in a mindless condition. The three most direct paths to reach a mindless condition are yoga, music, and tantra. Each person is unique and so their path is unique, but there are similar experiences that sadhaks (spiritual seeker-practioner) share as they move towards a common goal.”
In a bid to discover and define that common goal, the Talavya sadhaks rehearse constantly, getting to know the sound and musical motivation in one another, competing and encouraging the other to ride and extend the rhythm simultaneuously. The group believes that in the world of Indian classical music, there’s no such thing as practicing too much. The audience in turn, will see tabla being performed, not just played. The vision that will present itself as Talavya unfolds is born out of a unison of spirit and sound; a current that at the very basic level will get your feet tapping, but at a transcendental level will have your soul keeping pace.
Thursday, Sept. 15, San Francisco; Friday, Sept. 16, Ojai; Sunday, Sept. 18, Chico; Monday, Sept. 19, Berkeley. See calendar for details.