Monday, November 29, 1999

Gypsy Girl

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New York-based musician Ravish Momin talks about giving Shakira's concert an Indian touchWhen Columbian bombshell Shakira set off on a US tour for her new album She Wolf, she wanted an Indian rhythm to set the mood for her debut song Gypsy. Her manager Fifi Kurzman stepped in to help; he got in touch with New York-based Indian jazz percussionist Ravish Momin and the result was an Indian tadka to the very organic and subtle sounds of Gypsy.Gypsy, Shakira's fourth single, has since taken up considerable airtime on radio and TV, with the video featuring tennis champion Rafael Nadal. But that's not what Momin is raving about. "Working with Shakira has been one of my best opportunities so far. An extremely humble and talented artiste, Shakira blew my expectations on all levels during our tour. There was no crazy ego. We were just two artistes involved in give and take of music and the audience loved it all," says Momin, 31, who spent his childhood in Mumbai, and now has a jazz band called Tarana Trio in the US .The song, with a distinct folk overtone, was reworked to give it a touch of Indian instrumentation. Apart from arranging the percussion, Momin played the ghatam along with his friend Rajesh Bhandari on tabla. "I think one's heritage always follows one around," he adds. He also used the sarangi to give the rhythm a folksy tribal feel. "There was a simple set of rhythms and the song was set on that. So, she was not required to memorise the thekas," says Momin, who reveals that Shakira sang this piece sitting down with them in an Indian style, breaking her image of being a high-energy dancer.Momin adds that the Hips Don't Lie singer was aware of the difference between Hindustani and Carnatic music, apart from being receptive to ideas. "Her performance was so natural and the audience loved it," says Momin, a second generation American who quit a career as a civil engineer to become a freelance musician.Momin is currently reworking a few AR Rahman songs and planning to send them to his friend Ashutosh Govarikar. "It is great to be an Indian musician based out of the US right now since everybody just loves our stuff. Bollywood might be my next stop now," chuckles Momin.

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