Article 12

Rock On

The Beat of Love - Trilok Gurtu

(Published in Times of India, Pune on 25th August, 2001)

R ecently, my sister who lives in Washington D.C., sent me a cutting from the "Washington Post" reviewing the latest release of one of the finest percussionists/drummers in the world. What's more, he is an Indian who used to play Rock in Bombay, around the time that I started singing! Memories came flooding back to me about those wonderful days and I was delighted with the incredible success that this young Indian had managed to achieve, in the highly competitive world of International Music. I am talking about the five time 'Best Percussionist' award winner, in the prestigious Downbeat's critics poll 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2001, Trilok Gurtu.

My first memory of Trilok was at the Simla beat contest, which was the premier launching pad for Rock musicians like myself. We were brash young kids then, who were about to do only the second show of our lives, and my group, "Velvette Fogg" and I were all keyed up for the event. Our hottest competitor was a senior group called "Riot Squad" which boasted a lady guitarist. We had heard that they had had some personnel changes but nobody had heard the latest lineup. The "Velvette Fogg" performed to a great response and appeared to be in the running for the first prize. But we were not ready for what was to follow when the "Riot Squad" hit the stage. As the lights dimmed, the riff of one of Rock's greatest anthems of that time "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida " was heard and we heard the booming voice of their new vocalist Jangoo, the skillful organ playing of Burjis, their new keyboard player and, with the start of the drum solo, the dexterity of their new drummer, Trilok Gurtu. We knew then that we would have to settle for the runner's up prize.

So it was to be and Trilok went on from strength to strength. Coming from the illustrious Indian Classical Music family of the great Shobha Gurtu, his mother, he was new to the Rock scene. But it was not long before he grew tired of the standard Rock/Pop fare. He joined the "Waterfront" who were into progressive Rock and performed original compositions. Derek Julian and Roger Dragonette, leading Pune rock musicians of today, were his band mates at that time. But making a living as a rock musician in India was a difficult proposition and it was time to move on. Trilok Gurtu applied to the Berkeley College of Music in USA but they rejected him. Years later, after international recognition and many awards, the Berkeley College of Music offered Trilok Gurtu a position of an honorary member of the faculty, but he rejected them this time!

Europe has always been a great source of encouragement for Jazz musicians and it was here that Trilok headed, to try and make it as a full time musician. After living out of a suitcase for many years like so many professional musicians, he finally found his home in Hamburg, Germany where he lives today. A list of Trilok's fellow musicians reads like the veritable who's who of Jazz greats, with stalwarts like John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Joe Zawinul, L. Shankar, Ralph Towner, all figuring in it. Besides being trained in the grand tradition of North Indian Tabla music, Trilok has also imbibed Euro-African, Brazilian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese rhythms and has learned from many South Indian percussion masters. Today, he is the recognized leader of his own group, with the New Year seeing his fifth solo album "The Beat of Love" out in the markets.

Trilok's mastery of his art is undisputed and he has gone on to receive numerous international awards and unparalleled praise from the music critics of the world. But above all, Trilok is truly the embodiment of a man who followed and realized his dream, in spite of incredible hardships. Today, thanks to globalization, we have easy access to his music and Indians have the opportunity to hear one of their most talented musicians take on the finest in the world. So what are you waiting for? Please go out there and do some serious music buying! Trilok is grooving with his "beat of love".

Rock on!

Nandu Bhende











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