Sarode-Guitar Tabla Quartet a Musical Treat for the Ears

From left: Dexter Raghunanan, Ustad Aashish Khan, Kaushik Roy, Raja Banga.

From left: Dexter Raghunanan, Ustad Aashish Khan, Kaushik Roy, Raja Banga.

By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: Houston had the rare opportunity of listening to Ustad Aashish Khan on the Sarode on June 7 at the Anjali School of Performing arts in Sugar Land. Being the grandson of virtuoso Ustad Allauddin Khan and the son of legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, music runs in his veins. The Houston audience felt lucky to have him in their midst thanks to the association of Ustad Ji with our very own local talent Kaushik Roy, who is a disciple of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

The evening was definitely a unique event in the sense that the audience listened to the jugalbandi of Aashish Khan and Kaushik Roy, the former on the traditional Sarode and the latter on his Indian classical guitar played in the style of the Sarode. The duo of local tabla stalwarts Raja Banga and Dexter Raghunanan played accompaniment.


One could sense the suspense and anticipation amongst the audience before the show began because everyone knew they were in for a treat and sure enough the artistes lived up to everyone’s expectation.

Srabani Roy Akilla started the evening with a brief introduction of the artistes. She touched on Khan being the recipient of the Sangeet Naatak Academy Award and nominated for a Grammy award. He currently teaches at UC, Santa Cruz and the California Institute of Arts. Roy is not only a very talented musician in his own right but a great photographer as well. Banga needs no introduction to the local Houston music arena. He has his own Prana School of music where he coaches students on playing the tabla. Dexter Raghunanan, although from Trinidad and Tobago, is impressive in his the dexterity in tabla playing, as he has been in his accompaniment of several other great artistes visiting from India.

Khan opened the performance with a tribute to his grandfather Ustad Allauddin Khan. He drew parallels of this being the 150th birth anniversary of not only his grandfather, but also Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. He reminisced of his grandfather becoming a disciple of Amritalal Dutt, a close relative of Swami Vivekananda and music director at Kolkata’s Star Theatre, with the goal of becoming an instrumentalist. The first raga played was Hem Behaag, which is an evening raga in North Indian classical music and this was composed by Ustad Allauddin Khan.

The second piece played was the raga Manj Khamaj in two gats the Teentaal and the Drut Teentaal followed by a short intermission with refreshments. The evening concluded with the Mishra Bhairavi in Rupak and Drut Teentaal. This performance was marked by the beautiful alap, kind touches to the notes, variations in taans and the fast jhala accompanied by the dynamic duo tabalchis. The color of the raga came to life with the immense concentration and effortless flow of the individual artistes. The evening ended with a standing ovation and felicitation of the artistes.

The best news of the night was an announcement by Khan that he will be back in Houston next year and take an active role in teaching instrumental music to Houstonians. On talking to him during a free moment, he casually mentioned that he is not too impressed with the quality of the music composers in present day India who have come to the limelight. He feels that politics played even in the music arena is keeping talented composers out of work which is shameful. He has kept himself away from the music scene in India for the same reasons.