Ragas to Reels


Utsav Lal: Ragas to Reels


“A meeting of East and West full of ‘dreamy embellishments and flights of fancy’…..” Terry Blain, Music critic.

” Soak in a unique fusion of Irish reels and Indian ragas as two young musicians set out to redefine music boundaries… Mid-Day, India.

“Delhi to Dublin…..a melodious crossover……..” Hindustan Times, India


The Ragas to Reels project was conceived and first performed in Dublin with Irish musician Dave Sheridan. Thereafter, I met Sam Comerford and owing to our common jazz backgrounds and interests, a new collaboration was formed to execute this project.

“Ragas to Reels” brings a confluence of the rich musical traditions of India & Ireland. From the soulful sounds of the Indian Ragas to the pounding energy of Irish Reels, the artists present a unique exchange of musical ideas developed over years.  A center piece of the cultural celebrations of 2014, the 50th anniversary year of the presence of the Embassy of Ireland in India, the Ragas to Reels” performances were held in in the cities of Bangalore, Goa, Delhi & Mumbai in India. The album is a live recording of one of the performances held at Blue Frog Mumbai on April 03, 2014.


About the collaborating musicians:

Sam Comerford- Irish Flute/Saxophone: Hailing from a family of musicians, 22 yr old, Sam plays the tin whistle, wooden flute and is a well-known Jazz saxophonist who has earned a name for his exceptional musicality in both jazz and trad Irish music circuits in Europe.

Durjay Bhaumik-Tabla: Accompanying on tabla, Durjay Bhaumik’s tonal excellency, technical virtuosity and sensitivity towards music has seen him participate in several music festivals in India as a soloist & accompanist, as well as in collaboration with jazz & fusion bands.



About the music:
The music on the CD is the product of a collaborative project that has extended over many years. First attempted as a short piece during a solo raga concert at The National Concert Hall, Dublin in 2009, Sam & me enjoyed the experimentation & developed it further with a few more arrangements. However, most of the arrangements featured in this CD were written in the week before the 2014 tour, a week of intensive sharing, learning and arranging. There are so many unbelievably great compositions in both Indian & Irish traditions and we were overwhelmed by the diversity. This album features only a few of the arrangements we have worked on & a small fraction of the tunes that we love from both Hindustani Classical and Irish Traditional music. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed playing it.”

1. Alap- This piece is loosely based around Raga Hamsadhwani. It follows the traditional Alap-Jod-Jhala template and is interspersed it with a selection of Irish traditional tunes that compliment the Alap. It features a slow air, a jig and a reel.It has no percussion accompaniment.

2. Gat- Following on from the Alap section, this track continues as per the standard template of presenting Hindustani music with a composition in Raga Hamsadhwani which features improvisations based on the raga & many points where we diverge off into some really great Irish compositions. It finishes off with a great Reel blended with a Hindustani Jhala.

3. Song/Jig/Reels- The inspiration for this set was from two musicians. Peadar O Riada who wrote the gorgeous slow air played at the start of the track & Tommy Potts who has been a legend and a musical inspiration not only to us but to many of our heroes in Irish music because of his spontaneous improvisatory feel to his fiddle playing. This set features only Irish compositions which are approached in a very spontaneous way bringing in our diverse influences to add to the music.

4. Chaap Tilak/N’feadhar- This is a beautiful poem write by the saint Amir Khusro and one of our favourite Indian Sufi compositions which blends very well with another one of Peadar’s compositions N’feadhar. Many sections in the arrangements were kept unplanned allowing the freedom to take it to different places during play.

5. Impressions of Khamaj - This is our most densely arranged piece. We chose an Indian bhajan based on Raga Khamaj- “Vaishanava Jana To”, well known across the country & beyond. It was also Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite tune! After interspersing it with some great Irish Reels, we kicked all the rules out of the door and kept composing and arranging material inspired by both traditions. Our aim was to keep it interactive, exciting, involving culmination in a fast climax.”

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