Debashish Bhattacharya

3: Calcutta Slide-Guitar
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Debashish Bhattacharya designed the “Trinity of Guitars” played on this recording, and his performances are just as inspired and unique as his instruments. Bhattacharya took up lap steel at the age of three and began performing professionally a year later—and during the intervening four decades he has firmly established himself as one of the world’s foremost slide players. The disc opens with some almost bluesy motifs played on the “Anandi,” a sort of slide ukulele with a hollow neck, before evolving into a more traditional sounding Indian raga. The following pieces—which are also traditional ragas—are played on either the 14-string “Ghandarvi,” or the 22-string “Chaturangui,” using a three-finger picking technique that allows Bhattacharya to play extraordinarily complex and nuanced microtonal slide runs with breathtaking speed, accuracy, and beauty. If you are a fan of unusual guitar tones and techniques, a slide player in search of otherworldly inspiration, or simply an Indian music enthusiast looking for something different, I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful disc. Riverboat. —Barry Cleveland