From Fanfare, May/June 1994:
NIKHIL BANERJEE: Ragas Manomanjari, and Sindhu Khamaj. Nikhil Banerjee, sitar; Zamir Ahmed Khan, tabla. RAGA RECORDS RAGA-212 A&B [ADD]; two discs; 75:12, 70:49.
Raga Records continues their documentation of Banerjee's art, focussing exclusively on live recordings which are the only medium fully preserving his unfolding of a work. None of his studio performances ever permitted such a full view, as he often needed more than an hour for a raga. Banerjee was at his peak in the late sixties and through the seventies. The two works, comprising nearly two and a half hours, were given one evening in an Amsterdam church. The first raga is boldly classical, with the artist giving infinite patience to the sculpting of each section and detail of the scale and its unfolding. His performance is a model of the tradition and its use of patterns, rhythms, and ornamentation. By contrast, the second raga is light and fleeting, given over to improvised sections, virtuosity, and what is known as jawab-sawal, a stunning interplay between sitar and tabla as they imitate each other's rhythms. Taken together one gains a full experience of the raga, with the pairing of a reflective architectural wonder with a vital, earthy display of the instruments and the musical excitements they offer. ---Allan Evans