Viram Jasani

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Viram Jasani
Years active 1965–
Status Active
Origin Nairobi, Kenya
Music genre(s) World music, Roots rock, Folk rock

Viram Jasani (born 21 May 1945) is a Kenyan-born British sitar, tabla, and tambura musician and composer. He became notable in the 1960s during Ravi Shankar's tour of the United Kingdom, and performing tabla drums on the recording of 'Black Mountain Side', from Led Zeppelin's 1969 eponymous debut album.[1]

Career

Born in Nairobi to Indian parents, Jasani arrived in England after emigrating from Kenya with his parents in the early 1950s. He commenced singing lessons at the age of 8 and owned his first sitar by the age of 12. Jasani was instructed in the mastering of the instrument under Usrad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Imrat Khan (son of noted sitar player Imdad Khan). Jasani developed his own approach to the instrument, by adopting the Gayaki vocal style of classical Indian singers emulating the human voice, and phrasing his melody with the use of glissandi on the strings of of the sitar.[2] In addition to his sitar playing, Jasani also studied the tabla under Ustad Latif Ahmed Khan (a specialist in the Delhi gharana of tabla), performing recitals in both India and in Europe.

With the arrival of psychedelia in the mid-1960s, Jasani's services were much in demand, providing film library scores and recording sessions with Indian instrumentation, as well as teaching musicians how to play the sitar. His most noted appearance was on the John Barry soundtrack of the film Boom!, where he also acted as consultant and advisor. Jasani was appointed musical producer during Ravi Shankar's tour of the United Kingdom, and became friends with George Harrison.[3] In October 1968, Page was interested in applying the authentic sound of a tabla to an instrumental he was recording at Olympic Studio in London. The track was 'Black Mountain Side', and Jasani became one of the few people outside of Led Zeppelin to record with the group.[4] The session was completed in one take, in an evening slot, after most of the band had finished recording for the day.[5] Later, he also played tabla for a demo recording of 'Friends' from Led Zeppelin III.

Jasani also contributed to the 1971 Mikis Theodorakis soundtrack to the critically acclaimed Michael Cacoyannis film The Trojan Women. He also participated in jazz fusion orchestral recordings with Indo-Jazz composer John Mayer.[6] Further session work followed including adding tabla to the 1973 John Williams' album The Height Below.

Jasani contributed his recollections of the 1960s music scene to the 2008 book Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out by author Gordon Thompson. He has also appeared on the 2009 BBC Radio music series Close Up with presenter Lucy Duran, which explored the various Indian music styles in Asia.

Awards and achievements

In recent years Jasani has helped in increasing awareness for Indian as well as other Asian music through lecturing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, City University and the Music Faculty of King's College, University of London. He received an MA in Economics, Politics and Philosophy from the University of St Andrews and a postgraduate MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where Jasani specialises in North Indian music and is presently an associate fellow.[7] He is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) and has been since 1991 the Chairman of the Asian Music Circuit, which promotes Asian music in the United Kingdom.[8] In March 2007, Jasani was awarded an honorary degree for his services to the arts and medicine by the University of York.[9]

Notes

  1. Fast, Susan (2001). In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 75. ISBN 0-19-511756-5. 
  2. Bailey, Derek (1993). Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music, 2nd. New York: Da Capo Press, 8. ISBN 0-306-80528-6. 
  3. Roy, Amit. Krishnas mourn 'a good man', The Telegraph, Telegraph Group Limited, 1 December 2001. Retrieved on 5 April 2009.
  4. Case, George (2007). Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man - An Unauthorized Biography. New York, NY: Hal Leonard, 294. ISBN 1-4234-0407-1. 
  5. Jack, Richard Morton (2008). The Sunbeam Guide to Led Zeppelin. London: Foxcote Books, 109. ISBN 1-84353-841-7. 
  6. Hunt, Ken (27 March 2008). "John Mayer - Études/Radha Krishna". Jazz Wise (118). Retrieved on 2009-04-05.
  7. IMR Fellows and Research Associates. Institute of Musical Research. The University of London (26 January 2009). Retrieved on 2009-04-05.
  8. Williamson, Nigel (2014). “The Music: 50 Great Led Zeppelin Tracks”, The Dead Straight Guide to Led Zeppelin. London: Red Planet Publishing, 215. ISBN 978-1-9059-5952-5. 
  9. University of York honours leading Asian arts advocate and medical researcher. Communications Office: Press Release. The University of York (26 March 2007). Retrieved on 2009-04-05.