I recently received a 2 DVD set from Ultimate Guru Music Company in India of a very interesting musical percussion artist named Taufiqu Queresh. The first thing I noticed is the quality of the box, artwork and packaging. Very well done! When you open the box there is full color booklet attached to the box so you will not loose it. The design of this project was very well thought out. The book includes photos, credits and sound explanations (but not music notation).
Percussionists Paul Lau and special guest writer Michael Kranzler informed me that Taufiq Qureshi is a tabla maestro brother of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. Both are sons of Alla Rakha who played tabla for the world famous sitar player, Ravi Shankar. Zakir Hussain was part of the first world fusion band, Shakti, with John Mclaughlin on guitar, Vikku Vinayakaram on ghatam(clay pot), L. Shankar on violin, Ramnad Raghavan on mrdangam. This band came from the second incarnation of the band Mahavishnu Orchestra a band with John Mclaughlin on guitar, Jean-Luc Ponty (who had performed with Frank Zappa and the Mothers) on violin, Gayle Moran on keyboards, Ralphe Armstrong on bass, and Narada Michael Walden on percussion, Steven Kindler and Carol Shive on violin, Marcia Westbrook on viola, Phil Hirschi on cello, Steve Frankevich and Bob Knapp on brass.
The new line up, called Remember Shakti now features John Mclaughlin on guitar, Zakir Hussain on tabla and percussion, Vikku’s son, V. Selvaganesh on Kanjira and U. Shrinivas on mandolin.
Taufiq Qureshi comes from a highly esteemed family of Indian musicians. And the owners of this company, Ultimate Guru Music are also musicians. Jakes Srinivasan who is also in the DVD used to play with Alms for Shanti and Jay (Jakes’s younger brother) plays bass guitar as well.
When you put the disc into your video player or computer a very nice graphic comes up and the menus are easy to use and quite nice. The back round music is quite enjoyable as well. It seems like no expense was spared in the production of these DVD”s. The producers obviously new what they were doing! Interestingly there is a certificate of authenticity or some kind of form from the government shown. Maybe that is something you have to do in India?
Disc one is a brilliant performance series and especially good if you are open to and enjoy fusion style drumming as well drum set integration, breathing exercises and some other very interesting items by Taufiq. For me it was very fun to watch and I enjoyed the high level of skill of all the players as well as the interesting rhythm arrangements.
Disc 2 is a tutorial and instructional DVD. This is where I would like to spend most of the review focusing on as I think that is what the reader here will be most interested in.
This is a Fusion Drumming DVD. So as I mentioned about the performance, you need to be open to this new form of music to really enjoy and get what this guy is teaching. If you are a traditionalist or traditional style only djembe player or African drummer you might not like this style, or maybe you will. I loved it!
Taufiq plays a Remo djembe which quite frankly is one of my least favorite djembes. I have owned a couple in the past and did not like the sound at all. However, I have to admit in this setting it sounds fine. The point is Taufiq is not pretending to be a traditional djembe player, or play a traditional west african djembe drum. He is presenting a new style of drumming based on Indian music and percussion to be played on djembes. I personally do not know anything about Indian music other then playing with some tabla drum players and traveling and jamming in India several times.
Therefore, I had to approach this DVD as a total open minded beginner. Each lesson segment starts with a short concise explanation first by a narrator then by Taufiq. Then a short ensemble performance with two other drummers. There is also multi camera shots so you get to see different angles of all the parts simultaneously. Again, very pro. and well done.
As he shows the parts in the breakdown sections a visual notation pops on the screen and shows you the western musical notes being played as the click track (4 pulse) floats by. There are even the vowels or traditional language shown on the graphic display that goes along with the notes, note by note being played. All very nifty indeed!
The parts are relatively easy to understand, clear and he makes it simple to learn and understand. However, I do question if a complete beginner with absolutely no experience could follow along. There are slow tempo sections but compared to west affrican, afro cuban and other forms of percussion I have studied and taught this material seems like it would take a lot more to learn at least at first. I did find myself having to follow Taufiq’s foot to stay with the pulse durring the ensemble sections (when there was no click track playing).
The actual playing or hitting the drum technique that he has come up with for playing the traditional Indian rhythms on the djembe seems like a cross of conga and possibly Indian drumming technique. The only thing similar to traditional djembe technique would be the bass tone as the slap is an old school cup style (like I still use sometimes) on congas. It definitely works and it sounds really cool, especially when all three drummers are playing the same thing in sync.
My belief after watching this DVD is that not only is Taufiq a gifted performer but also clear and a very good teacher as well. He has come up with a relative and new hybrid system of drumming. He is quite knowledgable and a very good performer as well. I would strongly recommend this DVD to fusion drummers of any level, especially those with a little prior playing experience. I am giving this 5 stars out of 5 for quality, information, ease of use and being very cool! Contact: www.UltimateGuruMusic.com for ordering info or other info.