The Great Slide Guitarist

Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya


Sutapa Bhattacharya (Vocal) and
Shubhashish Bhattacharya (Tabla)

September 22, Friday, 7:30 PM


Cedar Cultural Center
416 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, Mn 55454

For a map and parking information please see link above.

Debashish Bhattacharya

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About The Artists:

Debashish Bhattacharya started learning Indian music from his parents before he learned the alphabet.  In his childhood he mastered many Indian classical instrumental styles as well as vocal music from different musical teachers in Calcutta. He became a disciple and student of Brij Bhushan Khabra, the father of Indian classical guitar, for 10 years, and also trained under Ajoy Chakraborty, the eminent Indian vocalist. He has also studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

As a performer, Debashish gave his first guitar recital at the age of four on the All India Radio, and in a public concert. In his twenties, he evolved a unique style of playing guitar, synthesizing selected features of various other instruments such as the Veena, Sitar, Sarod and Kannur. In 1984, he was awarded the President of India award at the age of 21.

Debashish developed his innovative Hindustani slide guitar after years of research and experience. It consists of a Hofner acoustic F hole guitar, with a total of 22 strings. He added a platform of wood running the length of the guitar's neck, mounted with 17 tuning gears. This piece of wood extends the width of the neck, making room for twelve sympathetic strings, and five supporting strings for additional versatility. Above the 5 normal (sliding melody) strings, there is a pair of ckikari strings, as on a sitar. One of Debashish's innovations was to move them to the treble side of the guitar, which enables far more complex playing, since their rhythmic drones can be played by the fingers, over other melodies simultaneously. Debashish plays this guitar while sitting cross legged, with the guitar held on the lap and played with a small steel bar, metal picks and a celluloid thumb pick.

Debashish is considered by some critics to be the greatest slide guitarist who has ever lived. He has, both through creating the actual design of the instrument, and through his incredible talent and discipline, elevated the Hindustani slide guitar to be the highest evolution of slide guitar anywhere. Though he is often compared to V.M. Bhatt, there is little basis for comparison, because Debashish's music has far greater musical range, physical dexterity, and emotional depth. To develop his playing, he has undergone decades of disciplined study of Indian vocal technique combined with his instrumental work. Debashish can sing perfectly in parallel with every blindingly fast melody he plays. Possessed of a very open musical mind, Debashish is eager and more than qualified to collaborate and truly blend with musicians from any other country.

Since 1996, his collaboration with Bob Brozman has resulted in two "World of Slide" tours of the USA and Canada, plus more appearances with Brozman, and with The International Troupe, in Canada and South Africa. Most recently, Debashish has toured Europe and recorded with John McLaughlin and his latest incarnation of Shakti. In 2002,  Debashish returned to Quebec with Brozman, and later reunited with him in California for the recording of MAHIMA,  released June 2003.

Subhashis Bhattacharya is a leader of his generation of Indian percussionists. As the younger brother of Debashish,  Subhashis grew up steeped in the deep musical background of the Bhattacharya family, learning melody and rhythm from infancy. His father Sri Sunil Bhattacharya taught him tabla and his mother, vocalist Smt. Manjushree Bhattacharya worked with him melodically when he was a toddler.

He started to make his presence felt in the music scene from childhood as a promising tabla player trained by teachers Sri Prabir Bhattacharya and Pt. Shyamal Bose. Now, he is considered to be a master player, and he continues to study with Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, the senior tabla maestro. He has regularly performed in every major Indian music festival, and has recorded four albums with Debashish and seven albums with Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty.

Subhashis first toured outside of India in 1996 with Debashish and Bob Brozman. His skill and flexibility as percussionist on several instruments, rhythm arranger, and vocalist have since been heard on subsequent overseas tours in the USA, Canada, South Africa, Greece, Kuwait, Bangladesh, and Nepal. A leading studio musician in India, he has begun creating and leading large percussion ensembles, and his arranging skills are essential to the music on this album, as an equal participant in its creation. With meticulously tuned hand drums, he played intricate rhythms, plus melodic parts inside the rhythm section. Creating percussion landscapes by playing several instruments on multiple tracks gave Subhashis a sense of liberty, yielding one creative explosion after another.
Vocalist Sutapa Bhattacharya, the sister of Debashish and Subhashis, has clearly inherited the vocal genes of generations of Bhattacharyas. With a master's degree in music, she has spent her life as a vocalist and teacher of music. Capable of singing fluently in the 10 most well-known languages in India, she sings most genres of Indian music, from classical and semi-classical to traditional folk songs to film songs, both classic and contemporary. On tours with Debashish and Subhashis and also with larger overseas touring groups organized by Bob Brozman, she has astounded audiences and musicians alike by matching Debashish's lightning-fast guitar melodies note-for-note with her voice. Her 2002 release, JETE JETE, placed among the top 10 Bangla albums of the year, positioning Sutapa foremost among artists in her genre in India.

Directions and parking:

Please visit the Cedar Cultural Center website for all information.


This activity is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council's (MRAC) "Arts Activities Support (AAS)" Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota state legislature, the Honeywell Foundation's "Dollars for Doers" Grant, and IMSOM Members. This concert is co-sponsored by KFAI Radio (90.3FM in Minneapolis / 106.7FM in St. Paul).

  KFAI Logo

For further information contact:
  Shivanthi Sathanandan (651) 698-0774
  Ameeta Kelekar (651) 787-0497



IMSOM, established in 1980, is a registered non-profit (501(c)(3)) organization serving Minneapolis-St.Paul and the greater Twin Cities Metro Area.

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