Indian drummer to light up Sydney

New Delhi: Known as the man who brought the mridangam - a traditional Indian percussion instrument - centrestage, Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani, teams up with Australian jazz band for the upcoming South Asian Arts festival next month in Sydney.

With his ensemble Sruthilaya, the master percussionist is collaborating with the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), a band with whom he has been associated with for the last 15 years, to perform at the Parametta city fest in Sydney this November.

"Music is common to all human beings. If the rhythm and melody are perfect, the music will touch audiences anywhere in the world," the Guru told reporters during his visit to the capital recently.

Having performed in the past with noted international artists such as Eero Haemmeneimi of the Finland Naada group, Elio Marchesini La Scala percussionist and Livio Magnini of Italy, he says music has no boundaries and Indian music is increasing in popularity, especially in the West.

"Nowadays, of course the sitar and the tabla are well known in music circuits worldwide. I took up the challenge of popularising the mridangam," says Kaaraikkudi Mani whose album recording with vocalist Paul Simon, of the famed Simon and Garfunkel duo, along with drummer Jamie Haddad is set for release soon.

This, incidentally is Simon`s first recording with an Indian musician after doing so with Pandit Ravishankar in the 1960s.

The mridangam maestro has also set up schools in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kerala, Melbourne, London, Canada and Germany that are managed by his senior students and continues globe-trotting juggling concerts and his duties as a teacher.

"We are tying to involve students into experimenting with many music styles," says the Guru.

Meanwhile, he continues to produce a blend of carnatic music with the jazz ensemble AAO.

"We first started playing together some 15 years ago when Indian government invited AAO to perform here to mark the 50th anniversary of Independence," says Kaaraikkudi Mani.

The maestro has been touring with AAO across countries and is booked for concerts in the US in the 2012.

At the inaugural five-day "Parramasala" festival in Parametta city of Greater Sydney, from November 4, this year, Kaaraikkudi Mani would perform "The Chennai Tapes (Into the Fire) where carnatic music has been taken and given a different interpretation by the jazz band AAO.

Kaaraaikudi together with flautist B V Balasai and Bharatanyatam dancer Rajeswari Sainath, Australian artists Adrian Sherriff, Alister Spence and Sandy Evans will play with
indigenous artist Amon Roach at the festival.