From travelling to India throughout the 1990’s and in the early part of this century, Bengt Berger has been fortifying his knowledge of theory and practice of Hindustani and Carnatic music. Many of these forays into the sub-continent have seem Mr. Berger set up shop not only behind a mridangam, pakhawaj, a set of tablas or creating a drone on the veena, but also behind a functional console – often at a soirée in a humble home somewhere in Bombay or in Madras – with the latest incarnation of his trusted Nagra tape-recorder, recording a performance by celebrated Indian master musicians. Many of these spectacular recordings have been released on Country & Eastern, the label that Mr. Berger helped found and continues to run out of Stockholm, Sweden.
A series of concerts began a long association between Beches Brew and a group of important Indian Hindustani and Carnatic musicians. The journey began in 2015 with a series of concerts in Mumbai (Bombay), Pune (Poona) and Chennai (Madras). There the Swedish group came and began a “jugalbandhi” with J.B. Srutisagar, Sornalatha Akkarai (one half of the renowned Akkarai Sisters), N. Amrit and V. Suresh. The music that came out of these cultural collisions was highly appreciated, even by the quite conservative classic Carnatic rasikas.
As Bengt Berger tells it in his remarkable blog, “It started in Chennai: After rehearsals our first concert was held in Chennai where our collaboration with J.B. Srutisagar, Sornalatha Akkarai, N. Amrit and V. Suresh was highly appreciated, even by the quite conservative classic Carnatic rasikas. Here is a video by Jöns Jönsson about our time in Chennai leading up to the Shree Krishna Ghana Sabha concert on January 3, 2016.
“Then we did a series of concerts in Mumbai and Pune. In Mumbai where we joined forces with bansuri (flute) great Nityanand Haldipur and my tabla gurubhai Sadanand Naimpalli. We played together at Talmakiwadi and at Tata Institute of Social Sciences to excited audiences and also gave a workshop at True School of Music and played at the Blue Frog clubs. Here we are after the TISS concert. In October 2016 four great Carnatic vidwans came to Sweden for the project’s finale.
“Then In October 2016 four great Carnatic vidwans came to Sweden for the project’s finale. Akkarai Sisters, the wonderful violinist/singers Akkarai Subhalakshmi and Akkarai Sornalatha together with K. U. Jayachandra Rao, mridangam and B. Shree Sundarkumar on khanjira joined Beches Indian Brew in a lovely series of concerts that started at Stockholm Jazz Festival and via concerts in Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Malmö and Kristianstad ended at the Umeå Jazz Festival with a last concert broadcast by Swedish Radio. A substantial part of this concert will be included on our coming album.