Trilok Gurtu may have begun his musical life in a family thoroughly steeped in the strict disciplines and formal cohesion of Indian classical music, but his own career has taken him into some of the most diverse world-jazz fusions of any musician.
‘My mother is a classical singer, my grandmother is a classical singer, and my grandfather on my father’s side was a sitar player and a scholar of music, and on and on it goes. We always had music around us, it was like food, and I discovered it naturally, as a source of pleasure, but also as something which I had to give something of myself to – this is what I understood by music.’
Gurtu’s musical journeys have seen him collaborate with a huge range of artists, from early work with Don Cherry, Oregon and the John McLaughlin Trio to the likes of Jan Garbarek, Salif Keita, Sting, Annie Lennox and Huun Huur Tu. His visits to Scotland include directing Pearls of the Tay, the multifaceted opening event at Perth’s new Concert Hall in 2005.
For this Celtic Connections gig, he will link up with the Arkè String Quartet, an unconventional Italian group who replace the standard cello with double bass, and throw in a diverse range of additional wind and percussion instruments, while Gurtu adds flute to his tabla, drums, percussion and voice. Their expressive merging and reshaping of the ancient musical cultures of India and the Mediterranean should be fascinating.
The fusion vibe of the concert also inspires the combination of artists chosen for the opening collaboration, India Alba, in which piper Ross Ainslie and cittern player Nigel Richard will link up with Indian violinist Sharat Srivastava and tabla player Gyan Singh.