Ry Cooder has long had an interest in other people's music, from the blues and gospel of black America through classic jazz and the music of Cuba. Even by this standard, his meeting with Mohan Vishwa Bhatt is certainly a departure. He is neither a serious student of Indian music nor in any way a master of its intricacies. Yet on his improvised session (this album was recorded without rehearsal in one evening), he and Bhatt truly collided musically and created moments worthy of the world-music Grammy they received for it. Bhatt is an iconoclastic character himself. He plays a modified box he calls the mohan vina that is a hybrid of a classical Indian instrument and slide guitar. He is long trained in the arduous classical style, yet his work has always demanded a lot of freedom. His duets here with Cooder are completely unique, liberating both artists from the usual constraints and creating a new musical style that is unlikely to be repeated or imitated. --Louis Gibson
A meeting between renowned US guitarist, Ry Cooder, and an equally outstanding young instrumentalist from Jaipur, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. On four extended, spontaneous tracks inspired by a river bank parable by Jelaluddin Rumi, the sound of glass against steel strings from Cooder's bottle-neck guitar contrasts and blends with the sound of a steel rod against metal strings from Bhatt's instrument of his own design, which he calls the Mohan Vina. This he evolved from the slide guitar and resembles the hollow-bodied curved-top jazz guitars of the 1920s. Rumi's poem concerns a frog and a mouse who meet on a river bank to converse in a language unhindered by the rules of grammar, and thus Cooder and Bhatt converse musically, with the complex rhythms of India added by Cooder's son, Joachim, on dumbek and Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari playing tabla. Tracks: A Meeting By The River (10.03) / Longing (11.56) / Ganges Delta Blues (9.57) / Isa Lei (7.39) This album is dedicated to Gabby Pahinui of Hawaii.