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With Bickram Ghosh 2008

NDTV.com  2008

CHENNAI Feb 2008

Concert for Shakti foundation with U shrinivas, U Rajesh and Loy Mendoza.
These scanned images are very hi res so you can enlarge them to view them if you click on them.


New Indian Express 13 Dec 08   Nandini Krishnan

Q: Let's start off with 'Quantum of Solace'. Did you like the film?
A: You know, I haven't seen it yet. Of course, I've seen the snippets I've played for. I've been on tour here for a while now. We were planning to see it in Calcutta, but no, that didn't work out, and so I've not seen it yet. But it seems to have a lot of great action, and seems quite exciting, really.

Q: How much do you get to see of a Bond movie before you compose for it? Is it the entire film, or just the snippets you compose for? And does it make a difference?
A: Well, obviously the composer gets to see the whole film, but with us musicians, it depends. With a couple of the films I've worked for, I've seen them through before I start working on them. Mostly, it's just snippets, and the terminology is still what it was when they were shooting it. So you're looking at your Reel 1, and Reel 2 and Reel 3. And no, I don't think it makes any difference at all. The music compliments a scene, and most scenes tend to be self-explanatory. Whether it's an action scene, or a love scene, or a terror scene, they have their own import…and you've got to get the right approach to it, when director and composer work hand-in-hand.

Q: The percussion in 'Quantum of Solace' was a lot more muted than in 'Casino Royale'. Any reasons you took that particular approach?
A: To be honest, it's in the hands of the director what goes out in the final mix. For movies like Bond, you have two teams – the sound design team, which gets your sound effects and gun shots in, and the music team. And it's the director's call which gets heard more – so sometimes, the music can completely outrun the sound effects, and sometimes the sound effects outrun the music. So when you're a musician, you play and you hope the music outruns everything else! (laughing)

Q: In 'Casino Royale', the nine-minute chase on the construction site, where the only music is percussion, was your 'moment'. Did you have a moment in this film?
A: Well, this one, I worked on all through, you know, and I did a lot more on 'Quantum of Solace' than I did on 'Casino Royale'. I did stuff right across the film really, do I don't think any particular scene stands out – though, of course, the action scenes were wonderful, and you really enjoy working on those because they allow you to really explore your rhythm.

Q: You've worked with two Bonds – Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig – and I'm sure each of their characters and what they bring to Bond alters the music you make for them…so what is Pierce Brosnan's music and what is Daniel Craig's?
A: I wouldn't say each of them has their own music. You tend to approach each film differently and bring a bit of your own self, your own experiences into the work. I've worked with Middle Eastern music, North Indian and South Indian music, African rhythms…all over the world, really, and I try to bring some of that into every Bond film.

Q: But then again, the music for Bond movies is a decades-old framework, and everyone wants to hear the music and know it's Bond. How difficult is it to innovate within those confines?
A: Well, music's music. And one has to find ways to innovate, to bring in different approaches for different scenarios. Like this album I'm doing with Bickram Ghosh, 'Kingdom of Rhythms'. You've got your sound design, and your beats and electronic rhythms, and each of us brings something into it. We've got a whole lot of songs here, where you have a basic tabla and then the mood of a song might need a melodious groove, and another one might need blindingly fast fills and licks. So when you have a framework, you work within it, look at the scenes afresh…and the mood carries you.

Q: You've composed for films as varied as 'Snatch' and 'City of Angels'. And some of them offer a lot more to a percussionist, with thrilling chases and whatnot. So which movie would you describe as your personal Everest? The one that was most challenging and which you enjoyed the most?
A: Well, I don't know if I can think of one Everest. You go in with an open mind, and you try to create percussion that says a certain thing. Film percussion is rarely very complicated and it's less of a technical challenge than a creative one. You need to look at what's suitable, what's appropriate, what fits into the film. Having said that, I've worked on five Bond movies, and I think that was the most challenging part. You're constantly searching for something new, and that can get quite challenging, especially when you get to the third and the fourth! (laughs)

Q: You spoke a while earlier about how it's the situation and not an actor who demands a certain kind of music. But you've worked on Sivaji. You've been to Chennai often enough to know how huge Rajnikanth is. So tell us about that – making music for an actor, more than a movie.
A: Oh, wow! That project involved working with A R Rahman, who of course, was the building block for the score. And he's so enthusiastic and so involved, he gives you that creative freedom to explore. And you know, I'm always thinking of music, whether it's driving down the motorway or on board a plane or in a train. There are all these textural layers of rhythmic sound, and you can play around with them later. I got to do that a lot for Sivaji, and it was a tremendous experience.

Q: I've heard a lot of your music, and there's something uncontained about it…like something which speaks to the universe. Where does control come in? At what point does the musician in you get tamed by the composer in you?
A: It's not about being tamed, really, because as you play, you begin to know intuitively what's right and what's wrong. Younger players could get carried away doing all these complex rhythms, sort of really exploring, without setting themselves limits. But after a while, you tend to know when you strike a balance, find something appropriate, something musical. Sometimes it's really simple, and sometimes really complicated. Your experience tells you what fits, and that's when you rein in.

Q: You've been working on an album with Bickram Ghosh and Mandolin Rajesh. Tell us more about that, and more about the collaborative work you've been doing.
A: Oh, yes, that's 'Journeys with the Master Drummers of India'. Mahesh Vinayakram is in on it too. I've been really sort of looking at music from all over the world, and this is an attempt to fuse South Indian ideas and North Indian music, and bring it into a different arena, a much more modern climate, but the integrity of the music has to stay intact. So you bring in all the elements of traditional music, and look at it in a different way. All of our musician friends love how it's come out. And this new independent label, India Beat, is coming out with a number of my projects. Saregama is releasing 'Kingdom of Rhythm', a collaboration with Bickram Ghosh. That should be out in January. That's going to be a Tour de France of music with tribal chants and all of that. We've also brought in Kai Eckhart, who used to play bass with John McLaughlin. And there's 'Made in Chennai', with Umashankar Vinayakram and Vinayaka.

Q: You've been working in combinations of two percussionists and another instrumentalist…mandolin, bass…that's quite unique. How did you make that decision?
A: Well, it seemed a natural combination to me. You know, in Indian classical, you have the vocal component and then you play around so much with the instrumental component. What I wanted to do here was to make a journey where you have Indian classical music, and then you play that with electronics and drums, orchestra and drums. Of course, we were a bit nervous about how it would come out, but it's been fantastic, and it sounds great!

Q: Your book – 'Indian rhythms on the drum set' – was published recently. It's a pretty complex subject. How long did it take you to write it?
A: Oh, that was a big write! It was about three years' work. Of course, I wasn't writing everyday, but it comprises a journey of that long or more. It's the first book of its kind, which looks at Indian rhythms specifically on Drum set. It's primarily South Indian, Carnatic, music, but there are also components of North Indian music, and both Carnatic and Hindustani are so complex and developed a Westerner can't even get a foot in the door, you know, unless you've come here and studied it extensively. Now that I've made that journey, I want more people around the world to understand this music…I wanted to put down a solid, jargon-free introduction to Indian music, orchestrated on Indian rhythms.

Q: You've got so many types of music within India – there's Carnatic, there's Hindustani and then you have Rabindra Sangeet. And then, you have Indian performers of Western instruments like the piano and saxophone and guitar. But while these systems were separate entities until recently, we see an increasing number of collaborations these days…
A: Exactly! I think we're moving in that direction, where music is not bifurcated into North and South Indian rhythms. Music breaks barriers within society and religions and people. You know, we musicians are all like brothers together, we make music together and we respect each other. It's a model platform, that it would be nice if politicians followed! (laughs)

Q: Your website has lessons put up regularly, and you don't charge for them. What is the philosophy behind that, at a time when artistes all over the world are struggling with internet piracy?
A: I see it as my way of giving back. I suppose I could charge five bucks a lesson, but I don't need to, because I make enough doing the work I do. Some people tend to retain everything, but then it dies out if you do. Some people make it very difficult for other people to learn from them, but I want to see more people getting out there and making good music. It was very hard for me when I started out, in the pre-Google, pre-YouTube days. Hard to source information and get what you need. Now it's much easier, and I want to make a contribution. I want to see people playing bongos the right way. You know, you walk into a club sometimes, and you see this guy or girl sort of going at a bongo in a casual way, accompanying the DJ, and you think they could do so much more if they knew how to play it, instead of just mucking around…and you wish you could hear that.

Q: You play so many instruments, and I'm sure you have a special touch with each of them. And to know them, you need to practise often, keep in touch. So where do you find the time, how do you play all of them regularly?
A: Oh, that's quite hard, especially when you're away. I've been here in India for the best part of two weeks now. And after getting back, I'm going to be doing a tour of Europe. So, yeah, it's pretty difficult. I've got one or two specific routines, where you just limber up with your instruments. And you'd be surprised at how much that puts you back in touch. And sometimes, you know, playing one instrument can get you in touch with all of them. For example, the kanjira, it's not that different from playing the tabla, because you're touching those notes on the scale, you're articulating. So playing one instrument, it's like playing all of them, in a bizarre and unlikely way!


Indian Telegraph 06 08


The busiest tabla player around just got busier. While he missed legendary drummer Steve Smith’s India tour in 2007 with the groundbreaking band Vital Information, tabla whiz Bickram Ghosh is all set to host countrywide percussion workshops with Smith, come the year-end. Bickram and Smith will also find some able support in their long-time cohort, composer-percussionist Pete Lockett; resulting in a never-before trio clinic featuring the three drummers.

“I couldn’t attend any of Vital Information’s India concerts last year. But when Pete introduced me to Steve in London in April this time, I was surprised to find that his iPod contains the Rhythmscape album!” smiles Bickram. Indian rhythms have long been Smith’s research subject — a serious student, the ex-Journey drummer is known not just to dabble but go roots-deep in any percussion culture he studies — and he is one of the finest jazz-fusion drummers to fuse this influence with his sound.

The same goes for the 007 percussion arranger Lockett, a diligent student of the tabla for over a decade now. That makes communication easier for Bickram. “Most drummers from a jazz/rock background don’t really know the finer points of Indian music. But Steve knows my music and has a lot of respect for our heritage. Pete, on the other hand, is maturing into as good a tabla player as anyone,” says Bickram. The first step is to form the drummer trio; the next, to make a musical statement with that project.

The three expect a packed tour schedule: Smith is an in-demand clinician for Zildjian cymbals and Sonor drums worldwide, while the UK stage can be handled by Lockett’s agents. “I’ve been composing for projects and films over the past five years. So this is one of the most exciting things to do in the playing mode as a performer, for me. As a tabla player, I’m in good form. I feel I should utilise that to the fullest,” says the percussionist.
Purists who have been missing Bickram’s classical avatar of late will be glad to get their hands on a dozen or so albums to be released in the next few months, featuring him on tabla with top rung.classical maestros. But first comes the debut album from Bickram’s new project, Electro-classical. A “parallel act” to Rhythmscape, this group features Pratyush Banerjee on sarod, Rajesh Vaidhya on electric veena and Amyt Dutta on guitar, along with Bickram on tabla and percussion and V. Suresh on ghatam. “I feel it’s a different sound from my kitty; one where electronica turns a corner with a personal touch, yet the music is classically driven,” he explains. The eponymous album by Electro-classical will be released on Music Today in June.

Arka Das

Bonding with the BEST

(India Statesman 06 08)

Pete Lockett takes a break from composing for the James Bond film The Quantum of Solace to visit Kolkata

From a distance he looks like a member of a biking gang in America or Australia and his tattoos make the audience forget his achievements. Pete Lockett has been travelling to India frequently and his last visit was to the premiere show of Incredible Hulk at Inox, Elgin Road. Almost on time, he entered with Bickram Ghosh, both dressed down for the occasion. Soon after his arrival a journalist from a television channel started asking a list of questions she had prepared eating starters ~ ‘How does it feel to be in Kolkata’, ‘Are you planning to score for Bengali films’, ‘Which is your favourite character in Hulk’ and ‘What’s so great about the film’… Attention soon diverted towards the ‘celebrities’ who had already gathered. Lockett is working with Bickram Ghosh but he is also working on several other projects, including the next James Bond film ~ The Quantum of Solace.
He will be playing the drums in the Bond film but the rest is hush-hush. “I have started working on the project but my other commitments keep taking me across the globe. For a month I have worked on the soundtrack and once back, more time will be devoted towards it.”

Lockett cannot be called only a drummer. A small list of instruments he plays includes the tabla, mridangam, kanjira, ghatam, dholak, naal, bhangra dhol, darabuka, bendir, frame-drums, congas, bongos, timbales, berimbau, Nigerian Udu, West African djembe, Japanese taiko, Western drumset and many “weird and wonderful percussion effects” such as waterphones and spring drums, along with many strange percussive objects built and customised by him. He also works extensively with electronics and samplers, both live and in the studio, using samplers, effects units and live electronic looping to create densely alternative percussion fabrics.

The musician has toured and recorded with include a few of the most respected artistes in the industry ~ Björk, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Bill Bruford, Jeff Beck, David Torn, Vikku Vinayakram, Selva Ganesh, Ustad Zakir Hussain, The Verve, Steve Smith, Chris Potter, John Spencer Blues Explosion, David Holmes, Ganesh Kumaresh, Michael Nyman, Natacha Atlas, Texas, Lee Scratch Perry, Primal Scream, Kai Eckhardt, Schlomo, Ed Mann, Michael Shrieve, Edwyn Collins, Damien Rice, George Brooks, Trevor Jackson, Craig Armstrong, John Bergamo, Kadri Gopalnath...
“People know what I do and what I am good at. I generally play solo and execute projects according to my sense of music. Rarely do directors or producers interfere with my work.”

Pete has worked in virtually every field of music conceivable, both live and in the studio, from pop and rock, to jazz and the avant garde, from traditional Carnatic and Hindustani music of north and south India to traditional Japanese taiko drumming.  He has also worked extensively in the film industry. Pete arranged and recorded all the ethnic percussion for the recent 007 hit, Casino Royale and can also count the three previous Bond movies ~ Die Another Day, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough ~ amongst his credits, along with Hollywood blockbusters, City of Angels (Meg Ryan), The Insider (Al Pacino), Plunkett & Maclean (Robert Carlisle), The Bone Collector, (Denzel Washington), Amazing Grace, (Albert Finney), The Quiet American (Michael Caine), Moulin Rouge, (Nicole Kidman), and the Guy Ritchie film Snatch. His stint in the Indian film industry includes Sivaji (Rajini Kanth).

“What I have done need to reflect my integrity as percussionist. I have come from a multicultural background and this makes me look at music slightly differently. When you cook a dish frequently, it doesn’t always taste the same. Similar is the case with music...” He has several projects up his sleeves, one involving Bickram Ghosh and his father. Speaking about Hulk, he says, “I have mixed sound effects quite well and used the kanjira, tabla and the Japanese taiko at proper places.”  He has three albums lined up for this year ~ Taalisman with guitarist Amit Chatterjee, Journeys With The Master Drummers Of India featuring Vikku Vinayakram and Re-Percussion with Bickram Ghosh.

 NDTV Good Times 2008; Pete & Bickram Ghosh

In the world' music stopovers, this duo virtually live on beats per minute. One is a drummer from the United Kingdom and the other is a percussionist from the heart of the United States of West Bengal! Say hello to the incomparable Bikram Ghosh and Pete Lockett!

Frankly, this rip roaring pair needs no introduction. So animated is their musical camaraderie, that they will go to the end of the world, if they must to shift rhythm to an overdrive. Using every part of their body to create what they call – 'beats', is a peak pleasure for their listening audience. Now Pete goes for exotic-looking world instruments that speak like a linguist while Bikram, lets his tabla do the talking. And when they jam, Fusion gets a ‘you gotta hear it, to believe it’ vibe!

A spectacular drummer, Pete says, “Definitely the deepest of all the percussion traditions! I've looked at it and it's immense, the amount of rhythmic development there's been over the centuries with in the Indian sub-continent, certainly more than anywhere else in the world.
For me as a percussionist, it's just such a rich reservoir of rhythmic information.”

His partner-in-arms is the son of the illustrious tabla maestro Shankar Ghosh. In his ten-year career, Bikram has performed with the greats of Indian classical music like – Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Balamurali Krishna, Kadari Gopalnath, T N Krishnan among others.  Says the tabla maestro who played the title track of the late George Harrison's album Brainwashed, “I've always had interestingly a juxtaposition happening musically or culturally in my upbringing.
When I was in school I was part of a band called Satellites. I was playing conga and stuff, after that I would go directly from school to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's house. Munawar Khan Saheb, a great singer was my mother's teacher, I used to play with them to the great kayals and tumris!.

So this juxtaposition has led me to a lot of work currently which I'm doing, which has led me also to enjoy collaborative work. It has inspired me to check out a variety of music.” 
Like his venture with Pete. He agrees, “We've been doing lots of shows together, some big shows in all the cities –
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata. But the two big projects that are on are – Sanef and Repercussion.

On their fantastic chemistry, Pete remarks: “Working with Bikram is really interesting, besides it is a lot of fun. It's an amazing challenge and there are lots of elements to it.  
There are certain things that happen where we'll just be improvising and we'll change it at the same time into something completely different for no apparent reason! It is a very common thing when we are playing together.”

Carry on blokes...

Sunday , November 30 , 2008
  Musical mantras

You might say that percussionist Pete Lockett is playing half-a-dozen tunes simultaneously. He’s just released a book, Indian Rhythms for Drum Set, which explains Indian rhythms and is a guide for wannabe drummers. And if, like thousands of others, you’ve headed off to the nearest multiplex to watch the latest Bond thriller Quantum of Solace, listen for the ‘ethnic’ percussion bits composed and played by Lockett.
The best word for Lockett is probably ‘musicaholic’. Music is his lifeblood and his mind is never far away from the high notes. “There’s hardly a day when I don’t play music or write something. The idea of not having music in my life would be bizarre. Like chopping off my head or something,” he says passionately.

Lockett’s work covers an extraordinary range from the purely commercial to the extravagantly experimental. He arranges and records scores for the best names in Hollywood. Also, he travels the world and plays on local percussion instruments like the Middle Eastern darabuka, req and bendir, the Japanese Taiko, the West African djembe and the Irish Bodhran. And he has a special corner in his heart for Indian percussion and instruments like the mridangam and the dholak.

Consider the schedule described in his website which gives a flavour of the fast-paced, drumbeats of his life. “2008 kicked off with performances in India with U. Shrinivas, U. Rajesh and Loy Mendonsa. Pete then had extensive recording work on the new Incredible Hulk film with Craig Armstrong along with the new Bond film with David Arnold due out late 2008.”

He’s definitely a figure who has made himself heard in Hollywood. He has arranged and recorded the ethnic percussion pieces for Hollywood hits like The Incredible Hulk 2, City of Angels, The Bone Collector, Moulin Rouge and Snatch among others. In India too, he’s recorded with A.R. Rahman for the 2007 blockbuster Sivaji.  Movies apart, he’s collaborated and played with the likes of Bjork, Peter Gabriel, Bill Bruford, Ustad Zakir Hussain, The Verve, Nelly Furtado, and Ronan Keating. He’s also taught at places like the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music in London and done live gigs across the globe.

But the focus has been on India for quite some time now and it shows in his work. In January there’ll be the launch of an album Kingdom of Rhythm with Bickram Ghosh and Kai Eckhardt for which he spent 18 months in Calcutta. The album has influences like Latin, electronica, Japanese and Middle- Eastern beats. Says Lockett: “We wanted the album to be accessible to both the layman and the connoisseur.”
Over the next two months he also plans to release other three albums — Taalisman, a jazz-based fusion album with guitarist Amit Chatterjee, Journey through the Master Drummers of India, with Vikku Vinayakram and Ghosh in end February-early March and Made in Chennai with Uma Shankar.

Then he’s negotiating with the music companies for another album Made in Calcutta with Pandit Shankar Ghosh, sarod player Pratyush Banerjee and a host of Calcutta musicians.  Lockett was first introduced to Indian music about 15-20 years back when he heard Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain play in London and was instantly hooked. For a percussionist, Lockett feels, the Indian rhythmic system is the Holy Grail of rhythm. “I don’t know if Indian people quite appreciate what they have got. But if you coming from somewhere else in the world, it’s a thing to behold really,” he chuckles.

He toured the country extensively seven years back with musician Selva Ganesh and admits that he’s been influenced a lot by Indian music. “The system is so developed. It’s 50 lifetime’s study,” he says. Ever since, he’s been coming back and his collaborative projects are the outcome of his interactions with musicians over the last two years.   Lockett feels that the key to successful collaboration lies in the ability to know how the other person’s mind works. “A part of the quest is to get inside the mind of other cultures and see how they approach music. For example, classical musicians in India approach music differently from jazz players in the West or drummers from Ghana,” he explains.
He doesn’t approach composing like a regular job. Unless when he’s scoring for a film and there are schedules to adhere to, Lockett doesn’t sit down with his music every morning. “Different things come together in different ways,” he says. Music is a part of life so whenever he comes across an idea, he jots it down quickly. “You think of different sounds — metallic, wooden, sound of skin, resonant tones, how they might fit together, the kind of elements you might use. I try and approach it much like that,” he says.

Nevertheless, he reckons that for a musician, nothing beats playing live. He likes connecting to the audience and the fact that there’re no second chances. But he’s quick to point out that he also loves being in the studio where there’s always the scope to reorganise things.
Lockett got into music “by chance” when he was 19. He was walking past a drum shop in London when he noticed an advert saying ‘Drum lessons’. He went in, took the lesson which “made complete sense” and “decided this is what I want to do with my life.”

From drums, his interest moved on to different kinds of music and rhythm and he studied and incorporated them in his music. He has, over the years, come out with a string of albums like Network Of Sparks One and Network Of Sparks Two.  Quiz him on what he does on his free time and he’s quick to point out that there isn’t any. “There’s always something to be done,” he rues. When he can, he watches games like cricket and football, reads, edits his music and cooks.  Cooking is number one on the list. “I cook a mean dal and curries and other Indian food too,” he laughs. He likes reading “heavy-duty stuff” like philosophy which he believes helps in philosophising his music.
Lockett’s aim is to capture his audience’s ear, and imagination. After all, like he says, “If you can’t affect the audience then what are you doing it for?”

HOT artiste  19 /11 / 08

‘I Am Me Through My Music’

Says Pete Lockett who is equally at home being a multi-percussionist and composing James Bond scores! 

Recently internationally feted percussionist and fusion artiste Bickram Ghosh was in the city with British multi-percussionist Pete Lockett for a pre-release concert for their new album Kingdom of Rhythm featuring more than 250 percussion instruments from around the world. A quick chat with Lockett on his classical and film music career so far:

Tell us about your musical experience for Quantum Of Solace the latest James Bond flick
I’ve performed, recorded and worked on scores for five Bond movies already. I have worked in tracks from
The World is not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day. It’s been pretty cool and an interactive process with ideas coming back and forth. I’ve arranged and recorded the ethnic percussions with David Arnold, the composer of Bond film.

What are you working on now?
I’m working with a lot of pop and my new album with Bickram Ghosh has a commercial edge to it. It’s novel and groove-based and has a hypnotic feel to its repetitive pattern of so many different sounds.  My forthcoming albums include Journeys with the master drummers of India with Bickram, U Rajesh the mandolin player. Made in Calcutta that has many Kolkata musicians and The India Beat with North Indian musical instruments like the sarod, esraj and classical vocals. Then there’s another one due for March next year which is a collaborative venture with Uma Shankar, son of Vikku Vinayakram with electronic drums worldwide.
Tell us more about your film scores
I’ve arranged and recorded all ethnic percussion instruments for recent Hollywood hits like The Incredible Hulk. Apart from Bond flicks, I have performed for Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman. In India, I have scored the rhythm for Little Zizou with Bickram and worked for the South blockbuster Sivaji with A.R.Rahman.

What drives you to be so eclectic and yet passionate about music?
I’m trying to be me through my music. It’s like an instinct that improves technically with practice. My passion inspires me to play a range of instruments —Arabic drums, Kanjira, western drum set etc. It’s all about an unstoppable passion for music and the determination to stick to your profession in the face of all oddities.

How do you explain your interest in mastering Indian Classical instruments?
I started playing musical instruments since I was 19 and dedicated myself to it in Portsmouth from where I come from. And it was destiny when I happened to attend a concert in Alexander Palace, London and saw a mind-blowing performance by Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain and got interested in Indian classical instruments. It was the beginning of my musical journey with Yusuf Ali Khan and Karakudy Krishnamurthy
I first came to India in 2000 to collaborate with Selva Ganesh and went on an all-India multi-cultural tour with Western classical percussionists and musicians from Delhi. I personally like to explore and study a lot of different things!

www.buzz18-dot-com By IANS . Nov 07th 2008   

Bickram Ghosh has teamed up with the James Bond Rhythm composer

The country's leading percussionist Bickram Ghosh has teamed up with Pete Lockett, dubbed the world's most versatile multi-percussion player, for a new album Kingdom of Rhythm that features more than 250 percussion instruments from around the world.   Kingdom of Rhythm that features more than 250 percussion instruments from around the world. The duo has just completed shooting the music video of the album to be released in January.

Lockett, who set much of the percussion score for the latest James Bond thriller, Quantum of Solace starring Daniel Craig, composed the ethnic percussion for five of the previous Bond movies. Ghosh shot to limelight after he featured on Pandit Ravi Shankar's album Full Circle that won the Grammy in 2004. He has since collaborated with international musicians, including George Harrison on his album Brainwashed, Bob Haddad, Mstilav Rostropovish, Khaled Kouen and Yosi Levi.  Ghosh is the son of the one of the early pioneers of fusion music, Shankar Ghosh, who had collaborated with the Grateful Dead in the US. After spending his early years in the US, Ghosh, a drummer, trained in tabla and learnt the nuances of Carnatic music from Pandit S Sekhar.

The duo played extracts from their latest album, along with famous Indo-jazz guitarist Giuliano Modarelli at the Ballantine's Leave an Impression concert in the capital Thursday evening. The thread that bound the three musicians from three different cultures - Lockett from London, Modarelli from Italy and Ghosh from Kolkata - was the love for Indian percussion instruments and classical music - influences of which peppered the tracks.  "Pete and I are working for the first time on an album. It is totally rhythm-driven. We have all kinds of beat instruments like the Japanese tyco drums, dhamsa, madols (Indian tribal drums), darabukka (Persian) drums, African drums, electric tabla and all possible percussion instruments from southern India. People are going to get a surprise," said Ghosh.  Ghosh has just completed composing music for Little Zizou, a Mira Nair production directed by Soonie Taraporevala and starring Boman Irani, John Abraham and Kamal Sidhu. He has collaborated with Lockett and guitarist Modarelli for the movie. 


Graffiti magazine

Kolkatta Telegraph November 2008

Download PDF of full Graffiti article 


THE HINDU  Leaving an impression

An Indian, a Britisher and an Italian. The animated percussionist Bickram Ghosh with his unkempt mop, the incredible hulk of a multi-percussionist Pete Lockett and the sweet and bald versatile guitarist Guiliano Modarelli Guiliano. Ballentine’s “Leave an Impression Tonight” at the ITC Windsor brought three different musicians and trains of thoughts on a common musical platform that saw diverse musical styles and influences. The lights were dim and midnight blue, music enthusiasts and those who pretended to be planted themselves on the plush carpet and nodded and swayed their heads away to a night of ethnic techno music.

A part of a four-city tour, the concert was the result of a three-year collaboration amongst the artistes, who have also been working together on a project called “Sunev” (Venus spelt backwards). Performing self-compositions that fused sounds from the far East like “Funky Arabia”, “Jewel in the Crown” and “Sands of Algeria”, the musicians presented a unique concert.

Say the artistes: “The music is very exotic — strong and rhythmic, with an electronic sound.” They feel that it is a contrast to their live acoustic concerts, as the music now is more fervent, and encompassing a global influence of jazz, Arabic, flamenco and Indian classical music. “The music is high energy, passionate and exotic — there is a lot of hand-drumming”, they elaborate. From the Cuban, Indian classical, Latino, rock and funk music of the talented Milan-bred, U.K.-based jazz scholar Giuliano Modarelli, Bickram Ghosh played the tabla standing, for the first time and the energetic Pete traded arms to play percussion instruments. “The music is very club-based and visual.”

When it comes to three musicians coming from different musical backgrounds and countries coming together, Bickram, Pete and Guiliano are open to change. “You have to bend a bit when you learn other people’s music. It is not fusion but a multicultural musical collaboration,” they assert. For the shaggy-haired Pete who started playing late, he says that after listening and analysing music for so long on a philosophical, musical and aesthetic level, picking up the instrument was about pure emotion. From Hollywood projects like the Moulin Rouge, Pete loves to work with A.R. Rahman. He is currently working on the Indian version of Sherlock Holmes called “The Diamond Murders”.

Bollywood music, they say has imbibed only loops and remixes for the last few years. “It is very programmed and superficial. A lot of original music has not been tapped, which is sad because India is the supposed to be the land of the drums.” And with Bollywood being dominant, they disapprove of every medium down to even FM channels blasting music from the film sets. “Music is not a reflection of the times, but rather, the present scenario is a reflection of the limiting music.” But Bickram is happy to play for the musically-conscious Bangalore audience, where members always go up to him with questions. While they believe original music will happen, “Leave an Impression Tonight” saw tunes that mixed, gelled and fused to create funky, racy notes by three musicians who brought the “Sands of Algeria” and a “Jewel in the Crown” to the city.    AYESHA MATTHAN


Poonam Biswakarma; First Published : 08 Nov 2008 11:28:00 AM IST

INDIA’S greatest percussionist, Bickram Ghosh, Londoner Pete Lockett, a renowned multi-percussionist who has been associated with the last five Bond movies, and new-age guitarist from Italy, Giuliano Modarelli were all in Bangalore to perform at Ballantine’s ‘Leave an Impression Night’. We caught up with them before they went on to impress the city’s audience.

About their music
“Our music is exotic and rhythm driven,” says the trio. Their music has influences from diverse cultures. They play beat instruments from all over the globe -- Japanese Taiko, dhamsa, madols, Persian darabhuka, African drums.
“There’s jazz, flamenco, Carnatic and Hindustani,” says Pete Lockett. They prefer their kind of music to be called as hybrid rather than fusion. Our music has hybrid identity, they say.  “It’s ridiculous to term our music ‘fusion’ as in a fusion, different genres come together but remain distinct. But in our music different genres blend into one, thus the term ‘hybrid’ better represents our style of music,” says Bickram Ghosh.

On contemporary music scene
They feel today’s music is in a bad state and needs to be revived. Everyone is making similar kind of music and are just aping the West.  There’s more technology than originality in current music. “India is a land of percussion instruments, but you hardly get to hear them,” laments Lockett. But they also agree that there are few musicians like AR Rahman who make excellent music.

On projects on hand
They have completed production of Kingdom of Rhythms featuring about 250 percussion instruments from all over the world and will be releasing it shortly. Also in the offing is Made in Chennai which will have a lot of Carnatic influence.
On Bollywood projects
They have completed composing music for Soonie Taraporevala’s ‘Little Zizou’, starring Boman Irani, John Abraham and Kamal Sidhu.  They are also composing for a desi Sherlock Holmes adventure film, The Diamond Murders, in which Sunidhi will be on the vocals.

On Bangalore audience
Bangalore has good music sensibility, says Bickram Ghosh, who visited the city last year also. “People have asked intelligent questions here. They could make out the difference in style in which I played various instruments.” Pete Lockett and Giuliano Modarelli have come to the city for the first time and expect good response.

On India
There is no doubt that it’s the love for Indian percussion instruments that has brought them together. What more do they (Lockett and Modarelli) love about India? “Oh, I love rava dosa, tandoori chicken and laccha paratha!,” says Lockett, who’s been down south a couple of times, and has also been associated with the music of ‘Sivaji-the Boss.

Download PDF of this article 


 The Statesman 23.11.08 

Confluence of influences

Bickram Ghosh and Pete Lockett are working on an album that features percussion instruments from around the globe. Before its release, the duo was joined by Giuliano Modarelli at a concert in Kolkata

If percussion maestro Pete Lockett be given another chance at life, he would live in India. Known for his association with soundtracks of several Bond films, including Quantum of Solace, Lockett has the roadmaps of Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai on the back of his hand. Recently he was in Kolkata to meet his old friend Bickram Ghosh and tagging along was the versatile guitarist Giuliano Modarelli. The result: a top-notch concert at Soho. Before heading for the venue, the three spent sometime with The Statesman.

Lockett and Ghosh are often heard playing together but this time Giuliano decided to join in the party (they perform together as part of Sunev). The unique selling proposition of the Soho performance was presenting acoustic music (moving towards electronica) in a nightclub. Ghosh said, “Nightclub spaces demand a certain kind of music; it’s DJ-driven. We are trying to present acoustic/improvised music in nightclubs.” Before Kolkata, the trio played at three other venues with the Bangalore gig turning out to be a difficult one. “We were playing inside a ballroom! And I was playing the tabla standing. Delhi was a better experience.”

The addition of Modarelli was needed to lend variety to Ghosh and Lockett’s acoustic music. Modarelli studied jazz before taking lessons in Indian classic music under renowned sitarist Dharamir Singh. His unique style is a subtle blend of folk, Arabic, flamenco and eastern European. He has toured with Raga Nova and performed at important music festivals.

Lockett was, as usual, chirpy and refusing to mince words. “On the tabla the entire spectrum of notations can be played, allowing musicians to articulate their expressions. It’s evocative. Playing with Bickram is always a challenge and a learning experience.”

As for Bickram Ghosh, he is a man who can handle twenty projects simultaneously without goofing up! He is working on several soundtracks besides a few albums, the most noticeable one being Kingdom of Rhythm. Lockett, who is heard on this album, says, “There are all kinds of percussions... We don’t want to alienate our audience. Unlike our earlier efforts, this one is for everyone’s listening pleasure. There would be nine tracks, each representing a different genre. One should listen to the taiko drums that have been prominently featured. Also used is a popular Egyptian percussion. In simple words, we want to present the popular percussions used in different countries.”

Lockett is also working on his personal projects besides, he recently released Taalisman. “You would soon get to hear me on a Music Today presentation ~ Journey With The Master Drummers of India and also on a few tracks recorded with Bickram’s dad.”

As for the Ballantine’s Leave an Impression Tour concert at Soho, it was certainly an interesting presentation, made special by the presence of Modarelli, who had to compete a good deal with two leading percussionists.


The Hindu Online  13.11.08 

Breaking barriers

CREATING WAVES Bickram Ghosh and Pete Lockett
Never sticking to the furrowed route, ace percussionist Bickram Ghosh is now taking the tabla into a new space. He transports its sound from the traditional gharanas into the nightclubs. His intentions were apparent at the recent launch of Ballantine ’s Whiskey in India. At a concert at the Ashok Hotel, he played the tabla standing, with Sunev band members Pete Lockett and Giuliano Modarelli.

With an infectious enthusiasm, he says, “I hope I’m not ostracised for coming into night clubs. It’s a different space and gives me a new opportunity,” adding with a laugh, “I can’t play intricate table compositions here, I’ll play groove.”

Ghosh is hoping to see a change from deejay mixes to live music performances in nightclubs. He notices a return to acoustics in European nightclubs and is hoping for the same. But believing more in gradual inculcation than sudden revolution, Ghosh doesn’t want to suddenly do away with the deejay. At the Ballatine’s performance, for instance Sunev even jammed with deejay Vicky. Ghosh thus successfully merges the acoustic with the recorded.

Performing in a nightclub is significant considering Ghosh’s illustrious heritage. Son of Pandit Shankar Ghosh, he has learnt Carnatic percussion from Pandit S. Sekhar. He has performed alongside ustads like Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain to name a few.

Admitting, “My head has changed,” his new-age sound is his attempt to resurrect the schoolboy Bickram. He explains, “When I started off I learnt the traditional way through riyaaz and thoroughbred classical musicians. But while in La Martiniere (Calcutta) I played the Rolling Stones, Bee Gees etc with my band Satellite.” Rhythmscape (his fusion band) and playing in nightclubs is an attempt to reconnect with the old Bickram.

His horizons have widened. It grew from being just about taal to a more hybrid sound. In today’s world he recognises hybridisation as an inevitable phenomenon, believing that music will inevitably reflect the cross currents of different influences. He says, “I can be a total classical musician — wearing kurta, pyjama, complete with a gold chain! But I can also go to a club wear a leather jacket and scream ‘Let’s Rock’”. He recognises this effortless morphing from one type to another as a new phenomenon, adding, “20-25 years back this experimentation would not have been accepted. These days everyone is ready.”

This hybridisation is evident in his recent, “Kingdom of Rhythm”, a joint venture between Lockett and Ghosh. To be released shortly, the sound is a bit of everything. The two of them have even “hummed” in some tracks. Ghosh cautions, “I would be scared to call it singing!” An all rhythm video is also to hit the music channels soon.

While he enjoys creating music for films, Ghosh has stringent conditions in his contract. He refuses to do the music unless he’s given the background score. He asserts, “We don’t realise how important background score is. It’s part of my clause that I have to do it,” he says with a smile. He has another rule as well, “No one is allowed to re-mix my music.”    NANDINI NAIR

 BangaloreMirror   a quantum of soul
 Bickram Ghosh, Pete Lockett and Giuliano Modarelli get to heart of the matter of music

 Seema Sarah Scaria.   Posted On Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Music transcends all boundaries. The happy collaboration between Indian percussionist Bickram Ghosh and the multi-percussion player Pete Lockett —  hailing from Kolkata and London respectively — serves as proof. What’s more? Indo-jazz guitarist Giuliano Modarelli from Italy too has joined hands with the duo. The three, who were in the city to perform at the Ballantine’s Leave An Impression concert at Windsor Manor, talk their hearts out on their innovative initiatives.

Explaining what holds the key to this collaboration, Bickram says: “Once you start appreciating other cultures, then slowly but surely you start breaking the barriers too. Pete and I have teamed up for a totally rhythm-driven album Kingdom of Rhythm which will be released soon. The album features more than 250 percussion instruments including the Japanese tyco drums, dhamsa, African drums, electric tabla and all possible percussion instruments from southern India.”

We are open to changes, compromising to some extent to learn other people’s music, Pete chips in. “See, you need to understand the building blocks of  music. It’s no picnic for a western musician to come to India and get the hang of the different structures of music here. Thankfully, Bickram belongs to the category of open-minded musicians, and I feel more
at peace and less out of place with him.”

With a slew of Bollywood projects and albums in their kitty, the trio is on a roll. I’ve just completed composing music for Little Zizou, a Mira Nair production starring Boman Irani, John Abraham and Kamal Sidhu, says Bickram. “Giuliano too has collaborated for the film. Now, we’re working on
The Diamond Murders — a mystery thriller in Hindi based on a Sherlock Holmes story. We’ve completed one song, which I would call ‘mystery jazz’ - a dark Hindi bluesy number. Pete has played the drums, Giuliano the guitars, and the rock’s mine.”

Pete, who made a late entry into the music world, says “as a musician, I place a premium on remembering how I felt to listen to music before I played it. It’s important for any musician if he/ she can listen to music without getting too much analytical.” He has set the score for the latest James Bond thriller,
Quantum of Solace besides composing music for Incredible Hulk and five of the previous Bond movies. Besides, he did the recording work for the Rajnikanth-starrer Sivaji.

Indian music has to go a long way as far as acoustics is concerned, Bickram notes. “If Bollywood music - that has been dominating so much - doesn’t become creative, then I am afraid it won't survive or even influence other music industries. With music nowadays getting too westernised and simply programmed, where's any room for creativity? A lot of original talent is simply wasting," he rues.

Bickram is all praises for the audience in Bangalore, in that “the city is never shy of musical sensibility.” Though percussion remains his first love, Bickram has starred in two Bengali movies —
Piyali Password and Neel Rajar Deshe
. But the percussionist vows that "from now on until something really interesting happens, I won't act. I fancy playing only the musician's role."

Brand new soul

Saturday evening at Soho witnessed a new breed of music not quite suited to the average disc-hopper.
The Calcutta leg of Ballantine’s Leave An Impression tour — which also was in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai before coming to town — saw tabla player Bickram Ghosh and multi-percussionist Pete Lockett (who you will hear on many a Bond film soundtrack) team up with Leeds-based Italian jazz guitarist Giuliano Modarelli for an evening of scintillating music.

“The sound that we brought to the table today is unusual in most night-clubs. The average night-club goer expects standard tracks, with DJ-driven beats. In that sense, playing in such a space was a challenge,” Bickram said after the concert, tired but satisfied.

Given that the trio’s sound “wasn’t standard night-club music”, it was natural that their experiences in the tour ranged from good to bizarre. “In Bangalore, the concert was organised in a ballroom. The crowd was rather genteel and dressed formally. They obviously came in expecting a ‘fusion’ concert. However, when they entered the ballroom and saw no chairs, they ultimately squatted on the floor. Pete, Giuliano and I stood while playing and there they were sitting on the floor… It was rather interesting,” Bickram joked. That experience wasn’t repeated in Soho, where the crowd cheered, clapped and practically roared during the sawal-jawab between Bickram and Pete. Giuliano’s winding solos were well appreciated. When resident DJ Vicky hit the console for a half-hour jam session before taking over for the night, the crowd was tapping its feet to the beat.

Calcutta’s response wasn’t a surprise to Bickram. “People have already begun to experiment. A lot of people are using the electric veena or the electric sitar. The very experience of combining the modern electric sounds of the guitar and drums with a tabla is pretty exciting. And contrary to what people think, it can actually go very well in a night-club setting,” said Bickram.

The buzzword in the drumming world, of course, is Bickram and Pete’s album titled Kingdom Of Rhythm, which features more than 250 kinds of percussion and is set to release by the end of the year on Saregama. The duo have also worked with Giuliano for one song on Kingdom Of Rhythm. They have also collaborated previously on Sunev, a project they worked on two years ago, which is still awaiting release, and also on the soundtrack of the film Little Zizou, a Mira Nair production directed by Soonie Taraporevala.
Malini Banerjee


THE HINDU Kingdom of Rhythm 
International multi-percussionist Pete Lockett on the hybrid face of music.


In Sync Pete Lockett is addicted to live performances

A chance advertisement in a shop window promising drum lessons for five pounds was the starting point of Pete Lockett’s incredible journey. If he hadn’t seen that ad he might still have been a docker in Portsmouth, England. And the magic of his finger tips would have remained mute. Having started learning the drums at age 19, he is touted today as “the most versatile multi-percussionist in the world”. With unkempt hair on a portly frame in a psychedelic shirt, Lockett doesn’t look a rocker but a musician. A hazy tattoo on each hand one of a bird and one of a rose symbolise his two staunchest beliefs — freedom and beauty.

This London-based musician recently performed alongside Bickram Ghosh and Giuliao Modarelli for the launch of Ballantine’s Scotch Whiskey in India, at Hotel Ashok.  With many James Bond scores behind him, he is currently enjoying the success of “Quantum of Solace”. His percussion score can also be heard in “Die Another Day”, “The World is Not Enough”, “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “Casino Royale”. For “Quantum of Solace,” Lockett has used big drums and a lot of electronic programming. While the challenge is to create a different score for each Bond movie, the constant is the “drama and passion” that is central to all the secret agent movies. He writes the score while being aware of the emotional quotient for each scene. If Bond requires drama, some of his other movies, like “Quiet American” required a far more gentle touch.

While he might be well known for his Hollywood ventures, the sheer variety of his skills is what impresses. He started his career with the traditional drum set in England, but today has mastered percussion instruments from across the world. He studied the tabla under Yousef Ali Khan and Carnatic percussion from Karaikudi Krishnamuthy. He plays the tabla, mridangam, kanjira, ghatam, dhol and dholak from here. His repertoire includes the Middle Eastern bendir, Latin timbales, the Nigerian Udu, the Japanese taiko and even waterphones. Forever on the lookout for the unusual, he recounts coming across “these huge stones in Azerbaijan”. He recollects, “They resonate like a bell when they are hit. People have played it over centuries.”

Worked with Rahman
The catalogue of performers he has worked with is proof of his versatility. He has covered an entire gamut of Indian and international singers and musicians from George Harrison to A.R. Rahman to Rajesh Mandolin to Robert Plant. He effortlessly traverses the eastern and western traditions, because he understands music as an innate universal experience. For Lockett, “rhythm is a primal thing that is as fundamental as language itself”. While acknowledging the different styles across the world he believes that there is no such thing as a pure style or pure music. “Pure music is simply the desire to make music,” says this musician shaking his shoulder-length blonde hair. He appreciates the different international percussion styles. Pointing out that in India it’s intricate finger work, in Africa it’s about playing a family of drums in interlocking patterns and in Japan it’s large drums that are played. Incorporating these different styles and percussion instruments he has created his own hybrid style. He elaborates, “I’m a hybrid percussionist. It’s a positive thing. It’s like Barack Obama!”

Having travelled the world keeping his ear attuned, Lockett is an Indophile. He loves India for its rich percussion history and for its listeners. He says, “I always love being in India. People here love their music. They listen with love and enthusiasm. Lockett has researched thoroughly about Indian percussion instruments. While finding that Indian classical music has not changed much over centuries he has found that the craftsmanship of making those percussion instruments is fading. He elaborates, “Skills are being handed down from one generation to the next. But drum making traditions are slowly dying. That’s really sad. These are the temples of music. They need to be protected.”

While looking forward to the release of “Kingdom of Rhythm”, which he has composed with Bickram Ghosh, Lockett is also excited about his forthcoming projects, including a tour of Holland and creating music for Play Station. Having authored “Indian Rhythms for the Drum set”, Lockett is taking a rest from books. But he does spend time writing and recording music lessons that are available online. “For me it was hard to get information,” he explains, adding, “If I get something from music. I have to give back.”

As of now, he’s also enjoying the resonance of “Quantum of Solace”.





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