Badal Roy

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Badal Roy
বাদল রায়
Birth nameAmarendra Roy Chowdhury
Born1945
Origin New York City
Genres Jazz fusion, world music
Occupation(s) Tabla maestro
Instruments Tabla
Years active1959–present

Badal Roy (Bengali : বাদল রায়; born Amarendra Roy Chowdhury) is a tabla player, percussionist, and recording artist known for his work in jazz, world music, and experimental music.

Contents

Biography

Badal Roy was born into a Hindu family in a predominantly Muslim eastern Bengal region in Comilla, British India in 1945 (which later became East Pakistan, then Bangladesh). [1] He speaks the Bengali, English, Hindi, and Urdu languages. [1] His father was a government official who served in the distinguished position of Joint Secretary. His nickname, Badal (meaning "rain," "cloud," or "thunder" in the Bengali language), was given to him by his grandfather after he began crying in the rain as a baby. [1]

An early inspiration for Roy was American popular music, and he particularly enjoyed the music of artists such as Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, and Nat King Cole. His first exposure to jazz came when he saw a concert by Duke Ellington and his 60-member orchestra at the Metropole Hotel in Karachi, West Pakistan in 1959; he and his brother were the only Pakistanis in attendance (the rest of the audience was white).

Roy received a master's degree in statistics. He came to New York City in 1968 to work on a PhD With only eight dollars in his pocket, he began working as a busboy and waiter in various Indian restaurants, including Taste of India and Raga. He later settled in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey. [2]

Musical career

Roy began playing the tabla at age 10 or 11, under guidance from his maternal uncle in Comilla. After coming to New York, he began performing with Steve Gorn at a Manhattan restaurant called Raga, eventually attracting the attention of Miles Davis. Davis invited Roy to join his group, and he recorded on Davis's albums On the Corner (1972), Big Fun (1969–72; released 1974), and Get Up with It (1970–74). Roy subsequently performed and recorded with many leading jazz musicians, including Davis, Dave Liebman, Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Herbie Mann, Pat Metheny, Lester Bowie, Airto Moreira, Charlie Haden, Purna Das Baul, Yoko Ono, and Ornette Coleman (playing in Coleman's electric band Prime Time). In the 1990s Roy began performing with the Brazilian guitar duo Duofel. He has also collaborated with Ken Wessel and Stomu Takeishi in a fusion trio named Alankar. They currently have one album entitled Daybreak.

Roy has appeared and offered workshops at RhythmFest, the Starwood Festival, and at the SpiritDrum Festival, [3] a special tribute to the late Babatunde Olatunji (co-sponsored by ACE and Musart) with Muruga Booker, Jim Donovan of Rusted Root, Halim El-Dabh, Richie "Shakin'" Nagan, Jeff Rosenbaum and Sikiru Adepoju, among others. [4] He often plays with Muruga Booker in the Global Village Ceremonial Band, and with Michael Wolff & Impure Thoughts. In 2004, Roy worked with Richie Havens on the album The Grace of the Sun. In the first half of 2006, Roy travelled to Japan to appear in a tribute for David Baker, his recently deceased recording engineer and friend.

In addition to tabla, Roy also plays a variety of percussion instruments including shakers, bells, rain stick, and flexatone. His notable students include Geoffrey Gordon.

In 2008, the album Miles From India, a tribute to Miles Davis on which Roy appeared, received a Grammy nomination. [5]

Musical style

Unlike many tabla players, Roy does not come from a family of professional musicians and is essentially self-taught, although he studied with his late maternal uncle Dwijendra Chandra Chakraborty as a child, and also studied briefly with Alla Rakha. [1] Consequently, his playing is freer than that of many other tabla players, who adhere more strictly to the tala system of Indian rhythm. He often plays a set of up to eight tabla (tuned to different pitches) and two baya at a time, which he plays melodically as well as rhythmically.

Discography

As leader

With Amit Chatterjee

With Ornette Coleman

With Miles Davis

With Steve Gorn

1982 – Asian Journal (with Nana Vasconcelos & Steve Gorn) (Nomad Records)

With Richie Havens

With Bill Laswell

With David Liebman

With Herbie Mann

With John McLaughlin

With Yoko Ono

With Mike Richmond

With Perry Robinson

With Pharoah Sanders

With Lonnie Liston Smith

With Leni Stern

With Steve Turre

With Barney McAll & Rufus Cappadocia

With Michael Wolff & Impure Thoughts

With other artists

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Brooks, Iris (November 1997). "Tale of A Tabla Nonconformist". DRUM!. ISSN   1097-0614. Archived from the original on 17 August 2003. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  2. "Play it Again, Badal Roy", India Abroad , 10 September 2004. Accessed 26 June 2008. "But last week, Roy, an East Brunswick, New Jersey-based tabla player, who has performed with the likes of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Yoko Ono, was part of the tournament's opening night act."
  3. SpiritDrum Festival Website
  4. Muruga Booker Website
  5. Recalling Miles Davis by Crossing Cultures by Nate Chinen – New York Times, 12 May 2008