Badal Roy

Last updated

Badal Roy
বাদল রায়
Birth nameAmarendra Roy Chowdhury
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.



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.


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

Related Research Articles

<i>Kind of Blue</i> 1959 studio album by Miles Davis

Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter-composer Miles Davis. It was recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959, at Columbia's 30th Street Studio in New York City, and released on August 17 of that year by Columbia Records. For the recording, Davis led a sextet featuring saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, with new band pianist Wynton Kelly appearing on one track in place of Evans.

Jeremy Steig was an American jazz flutist.

Steve Gorn is a master bamboo flautist and saxophone player.

Perry Robinson

Perry Morris Robinson was an American jazz clarinetist and composer. He was the son of composer Earl Robinson.

<i>Milestones</i> (Miles Davis album) 1958 studio album by Miles Davis

Milestones is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis, recorded with his "first great quintet" augmented as a sextet. It was released in 1958 by Columbia Records.

<i>Seven Steps to Heaven</i> 1963 studio album by Miles Davis

Seven Steps to Heaven is the eighth studio album on Columbia Records by jazz musician Miles Davis, released in 1963, catalogue CL 2051 and CS 8851 in stereo. Recorded at Columbia's 30th Street Studios in Manhattan, and at Columbia Studios in Los Angeles, it presents the Miles Davis Quintet in transition.

<i>On the Corner</i> 1972 studio album by Miles Davis

On the Corner is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Miles Davis. It was recorded in June and July 1972 and released on October 11 of the same year by Columbia Records. The album continued Davis's exploration of jazz fusion, and explicitly drew on the influence of funk musicians Sly Stone and James Brown, the experimental music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, ideas by composer Paul Buckmaster, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman.

<i>Get Up with It</i> 1974 compilation album by Miles Davis

Get Up with It is a compilation album by American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Miles Davis. Released by Columbia Records on November 22, 1974, it compiled songs Davis had recorded in sessions between 1970 and 1974, including those for the studio albums Jack Johnson (1971) and On the Corner (1972). In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), J. D. Considine described the compilation's music as "worldbeat fusion".

<i>Big Fun</i> (Miles Davis album) 1974 compilation album by Miles Davis

Big Fun is a compilation album by American jazz musician Miles Davis. It was released by Columbia Records on April 19, 1974, and compiled recordings Davis had made in sessions between 1969 and 1972. Largely ignored in 1974, it was reissued on August 1, 2000, by Columbia and Legacy Records with additional material, which led to a critical reevaluation.

Muruga Booker American musician

Steven Bookvich known as Muruga Booker is an American drummer, composer, inventor, artist, recording artist, and an autonomous Orthodox priest.

Lonnie Liston Smith American jazz, soul, and funk musician (born 1940)

Lonnie Liston Smith Jr. is an American jazz, soul, and funk musician who played with such jazz artists as Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis before forming Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes, recording a number of albums widely regarded as classics in the fusion, smooth jazz and acid jazz genres.

<i>Miles Davis at Fillmore</i> 1970 live album by Miles Davis

Miles Davis at Fillmore is a 1970 live album by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and band, recorded at the Fillmore East, New York City on four consecutive days, June 17 through June 20, 1970, originally released as a double vinyl LP. The performances featured the double keyboard set-up Davis toured with for a few months, with Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea playing electronic organ and Fender Rhodes, respectively. The group opened for Laura Nyro at these performances.

<i>Miles & Monk at Newport</i> 1964 live album by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk

Miles & Monk at Newport was a combined album of a Miles Davis appearance at Newport with an appearance of Thelonious Monk, recorded in 1958 and 1963 and released in June 1964 by Columbia records. Despite the title, the two artists do not perform together on the LP, and they are represented on each side by separate live appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival.

<i>In Concert</i> (Miles Davis album) 1973 live album by Miles Davis

In Concert is a live double album by American jazz musician Miles Davis. It was recorded in 1972 at the Philharmonic Hall in New York City. Columbia Records' original release did not credit any personnel, recording date, or track listing, apart from the inner liner listing the two titles "Foot Fooler" and "Slickaphonics".

<i>The Complete On the Corner Sessions</i> 2007 box set by Miles Davis

The Complete On the Corner Sessions is a posthumous box set by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released in the US on September 25, 2007, by Columbia Records and in the UK on September 29 on Legacy Recordings. Like other Davis box sets, the included material is taken from a wider chronology of sessions than the dates which actually produced the titular album. The Complete On the Corner Sessions compiles material from 1972 through 1975 which, due to lineup changes Davis made throughout the era, features over two dozen musicians.

<i>Water Babies</i> (album) 1976 compilation album by Miles Davis

Water Babies is a compilation album by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It compiled music Davis recorded in studio sessions with his quintet in 1967 and 1968, including outtakes from his 1968 album Nefertiti and recordings that foreshadowed his direction on In a Silent Way (1969), while covering styles such as jazz fusion and post-bop. Water Babies was released by Columbia Records in 1976 after Davis had (temporarily) retired.

<i>Blue Period</i> (album) 1953 studio album by Miles Davis

Blue Period is a 1953 10" LP album by Miles Davis, his second released by Prestige Records, recorded over the course of two 1951 recording sessions at New York's Apex Studio.

Music of the World is a World music record label that was active from 1982 to 2000. The company produced over 100 CDs and cassettes of traditional and contemporary artists from around the world. Nomad and Latitudes were imprint labels.

<i>Quiet Nights</i> (Miles Davis and Gil Evans album) 1963 studio album by Miles Davis/Gil Evans

Quiet Nights is a studio album by jazz musician Miles Davis, and his fourth album collaboration with Gil Evans, released in 1964 on Columbia Records, catalogue CL 2106 and CS 8906 in stereo. Recorded mostly at Columbia's 30th Street Studios in Manhattan, it is the final album by Davis and Evans.

<i>Directions</i> (Miles Davis album) 1981 compilation album by Miles Davis

Directions is a compilation album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released in 1981 by Columbia Records. It collects previously unreleased outtakes that Davis recorded between 1960 and 1970. Directions was the last of a series of compilation albums - mostly consisting of, at that time, previously unreleased music - that Columbia released to bridge Davis' recording hiatus that ended with The Man with the Horn in July 1981.


  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