VIDEO: US Air Force Band of Pacific collaborates with Indian master-percussionist - GulfToday

VIDEO: US Air Force Band of Pacific collaborates with Indian master percussionist

music band 1

A videograb from the music video.

Gulf Today Report

India’s ties with Western and European nations in the realm of music go back decades. Famed sitarist Ravi Shankar popularised Indian music by teaming up with reputed violinist Yehudi Menuhin and The Beatles in the mid-1960s. It was because of him that George Harrison learnt the sitar and the British band recorded songs like ‘Norwegian Wood’ and ‘Within You, Without You’.

American folk artist Carrie Newcomer and the family of India’s famed sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan recorded an album ‘Everything is Everywhere.’

Renowned Indian film composer A.R. Rahman’s humdinger ‘Jai Ho’ from the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ saw several remixes, including one by the American girl band PussyCat Dolls.


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A few years ago, a concert performed by Vrindavan-based sitar maestro Acharya Trigunateet Jaimini and Italian guitar maestro D Turi had audiences in the Indian state of Odisha spellbound.

Now, acclaimed Indian percussion artist Giridhar Udupa, who plays the ghatam (a percussion instrument) and the Hawaii-based United States Air Force Band of the Pacific, have jointly released a music video, reinforcing the US-India Major Defence Partnership and people-to-people ties between the two countries.

The collaboration was inspired by the band's commitment to support Aero India 2021, which was held in Bengaluru recently.

The band's original plan included a live performance with Indian master-percussionist Ghatam Giridhar Udupa. But these plans were scuttled due to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

In this video, Udupa performs traditional Indian rhythms on the "Ghatam", one of India's most ancient percussion instruments, while US Band's Technical Sergeant Wilfredo Cruz complements on the native Puerto Rican "Barril de Bomba,” another ancient percussion instrument.

music band 2 Ghatam Giridhar Udupa poses for a photograph. 

While each soloist performs in their traditional musical language, the energy and passion of their music is and always will be universal. "We can't wait to have an in-person cultural exchange with our new friend Udupa and the people of India," the band said in its statement on Facebook.

The original song "Open Clusters" was composed by Staff Sergeant Luis Rosa, a saxophone instrumentalist with the US Air Force Band of the Pacific, and is a musical fusion of two masters of Indian and Puerto Rican culture and rhythm, the statement explained.

Other artists in the musical composition are Senior Airman Guy James on guitar, Staff Sergeant Andrew Detra on bass, and Technical Sergeant Wilfredo Cruz on percussion.

The United States Air Force Band of the Pacific's Publicity Section Chief Technical Sergeant Wilfredo Cruz said, "We are honoured and extremely grateful to be able to produce this musical collaboration for all of our viewers worldwide."

He added that the pandemic did not allow the band to be in India to perform live during Aero India, yet music connects all regardless of distance or borders, according to Indo-Asian News Service.

"We leverage the power of music to strengthen bonds with our friends and partners through the Indo-Pacific region. We hope you enjoy this virtual performance as much as we enjoyed preparing it for you!," he said.

While talking about the long-distance collaboration, the Indian percussion artist Udupa said, "The newly composed track with incredible musicians from the US Air Force Band. The composition perfectly fits into the world music scene."

The United States Air Force Band of the Pacific is a squadron of professional US Air Force musicians that performs in diverse musical configurations and fulfils community relations and military functions throughout the Western Pacific region.

These ensembles present more than 200 performances annually, cultivating patriotism while enhancing cultural ties on behalf of the Pacific Air Forces and the US Air Force throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Udupa is an acclaimed Bengaluru-based Indian ghatam (percussion) artist with three decades of experience of collaborations with eminent artists across the world and concert visits to more than 50 countries.

He has performed at the many prestigious venues in the world including Carnegie Hall in New York City, The John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., and The Wortham Centre in Houston, Texas.

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