Vishwa Mohan Bhatt | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt 

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VISHWA MOHAN BHATT

Irony bites again: through his decidedly unclassical recordings with Americans like Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal (to say nothing of his recent work with Arabic oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen) guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has quietly become the most celebrated exponent of Indian classical music in this country since the heyday of Ravi Shankar. Bhatt, whose handmade slide guitar, the mohan vina, uses sitar strings as well as the standard six guitar strings to produce a dronelike effect, seems more interested in exploring the common ground between Indian music and other sounds--particularly blues guitar, with its similarity to human weeping--than he is in acting as ambassador for his native country's musical traditions. His work is certainly identifiable as Indian music, but in bridging the gaps with other musical cultures he's toyed liberally with its rules, with transcendently beautiful results. For this concert, part of Ravinia's Musica Viva ethnic series, Bhatt will be joined by tabla player Swampan Choudhary, so even if he pulls out some of his more accessible fusion pieces, it seems all but certain that he'll also display his classical roots more prominently than usual. Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 847-266-5100. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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