Bob Brozman in India: Hindustani slide guitar, Indian slide guitar, tablas, world slide guitar
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Bob Brozman in India

Bob Brozman's journey into India and its music began with Debashish Bhattacharya, who Bob considers the greatest slide guitarist of all time in any genre. Bob first encountered Debashish in 1996. The opening notes that they first played together began with a simple agreement to play in D minor. From that point, only attentiveness, communication, and emotion built the music.

In January 1998, Bob went to Calcutta for a residence and recording with Debashish and Subhashis. Being in Calcutta is a very intense experience, recommended for all Americans to witness how much of the world lives. SUNRISE was the result of a recording made in stifling 110-degree heat. The compositions on this recording were created to give the listener a true mixture of east and west. Drawing on Debashish's roots in Indian classical and folk music, and Bob's roots in blues, Hawaiian, Caribbean, jazz, and African music, these two guitarists employed both their cultural differences and their philosophical commonalities to compose a variety of completely new music. SUNRISE was released in 1998 in India only, and remains difficult to obtain.

In 1999, Bob brought Debashish and Subhashis to tour in Canada. Debashish's fiery virtuosity ignited the audiences, and he was invited to return in 2000 with his sister, master vocalist Sutapa Bhattacharya, Subhashis and multi-instrumentalist Tapas Roy. In summer of 2002, Bob, Debashish, and Subhashis reunited again in Canada.


The slide guitar developed in many cultures around the world, but there are many deep connections between Hawaiian guitar and Indian music. The earliest known report of anyone playing slide guitar in Hawaii dates from 1876, when Gabriel Davion, an Indian boy kidnapped by Portuguese sailors and brought to Hawaii, is reported to have been playing slide guitar on his lap. Of course there are Indian instruments utilizing slide going back to earlier times. However, the normal western Hawaiian guitar was first introduced to India by Bob's Hawaiian guitar guru, Tau Moe, in 1929. Mr. Moe also lived in Calcutta from 1941-1947 at which time he made many influential recordings for H.M.V. India. Tau Moe toured with his family for 57 years around the world before his retirement and subsequent re-discovery by Bob in 1988. Tau's star pupil in India was Garney Nyss, who became India's leading Hawaiian- style recording artist. Mr. Nyss influenced Sri Brij Bhusan Kabra, the first Indian musician to play Indian classical music on the Hawaiian guitar. His star student, in turn, is Debashish Bhattacharya, who has taken the instrument to new levels, both in the form and design of the Hindustani slide guitar, but also in his incredible playing. Amazingly, all four generations were still alive in 1998. Bob had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nyss and hearing him play, during his 1998 Calcutta trip. He passed away later that year. Tau Moe passed away at 95, in 2004, but not before Debashish finally had a chance to meet him in Hawaii, completing the circle. Thus, the connection between Bob and Debashish has even deeper historical and philosophical resonance, which confirms and expands their deep friendship and musical partnership.