A Meeting by the River

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A Meeting by the River
Studio album by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
Released April 1993[1]
Recorded September 1992
Genre Blues, international, New Age, pop rock[2]
Length 39:35
Label Water Lily Acoustics
Producer Kavichandran Alexander, Jayant Shah
Ry Cooder chronology
Little Village
(1992)
A Meeting by the River
(1993)
Talking Timbuktu
(1994)
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt chronology
Gathering Rain Clouds
(1993)
A Meeting by the River
(1993)
Mumtaz Mahal
(1995)

A Meeting by the River is an album by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, released in April 1993 through the record label Water Lily Acoustics.[2] Recorded in September 1992, the improvised collaborative album features Cooder on slide guitar and Bhatt on the Mohan veena, a stringed instrument created by Bhatt. A Meeting by the River was produced by Kavichandran Alexander and Jayant Shah, engineered by Alexander and mastered by Kevin Michael Gray and Paul Stubblebine. The album peaked at number four on Billboard's Top World Music Albums chart and earned Cooder and Bhatt Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album at the 36th Grammy Awards (1994). The album is included in Tom Moon's 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

Composition[edit]

Mohan veena performer Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in 2006

A Meeting by the River was recorded in September 1992 and features Cooder solely on slide guitar and Bhatt on the Mohan veena, a stringed instrument created by Bhatt.[2][3] Allmusic's Daniel Gioffre described the instrument as a "hybrid" between a guitar and a vichitra veena,[2] performed with a metal slide moving across steel rods along the neck.[4] Cooder had heard a recording of Hindustani classical music performed by Bhatt and was impressed by his playing and the "haunting clarity" of the Mohan veena.[5] Cooder and Bhatt met for the first time less than one hour before recording began and improvised much of the set (the album's liner notes state that "this recording was unplanned and unrehearsed").[2][4][6] The album was produced by Kavichandran Alexander (founder of Water Lily Acoustics)[7] and Jayant Shah, engineered by Alexander and mastered by Kevin Michael Gray and Paul Stubblebine. Cooder and Bhatt are accompanied by Cooder's fourteen-year-old son Joachim on dumbek, a Middle Eastern drum, and Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari on tabla.[5][8]

The collaboration between Cooder and Bhatt marked Alexander's first attempt to record musicians of different cultures together, one of his goals when he founded the record label.[7] Author George Plasketes described Bhatt's playing as "highly nuanced" while Cooder performs in a more "loose-jointed, slip 'n' slide style".[5] According to Gioffre, Cooder and Bhatt use improvisation and "voice-like" phrasing, showing melodic performances in an alternating fashion and in unison.[2] The album contains four tracks, three of which were credited to Cooder and Bhatt, ranging in length from approximately seven and a half to twelve minutes.[2] "Longing" has a structure similar to a raga. Author Tom Moon noted that Cooder takes the lead on the hymn "Isa Lei" as Bhatt contributes "elaborate squiggling asides" and "swooping nosedives".[9] In 2011, Bhatt performed "A Meeting by the River" at a music festival in honor of guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Bhatt said of the song: "Music has no religion and no geographical or linguistic barrier. It speaks a universal language. My composition – 'A Meeting by the River' – aims at explaining this."[10] Bhatt has stated that he considers working with Cooder his "most special" collaboration.[11]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[12]

Gioffre wrote a positive review for the album and called Cooder and Bhatt "genuine masters" of their respective instruments. He described the musical interplay between the musicians as "nothing short of astounding" and the album as a rare instance in which a combination of genres works. Furthermore, Gioffre wrote: "this album is masterfully recorded; each instrument is clear, distinct, and three-dimensional sounding. A Meeting by the River is a must-own, a thing of pure, unadulterated beauty, and the strongest record in Cooder's extensive catalog."[2] Peter Margasak of the Chicago Tribune awarded the album four out of four stars, describing Cooder's performance as "arresting" and Bhatt's "haunting". Margasak wrote that the fusion revealed a "rare, often transcendental beauty" as the two artists "gently and intuitively" found common ground.[4] Rolling Stone called the album "fruitful" and awarded it three out of five stars.[12]

Chart performance and recognition[edit]

A Meeting by the River reached a peak position of number four on Billboard's Top World Music Albums chart.[13] In 1994, the album earned Cooder and Bhatt Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album.[14] Bhatt became one of a few Indian musicians to have received a Grammy Award; until A. R. Rahman won at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010, previous Indian award winners had been recognized jointly with Western artists.[15] The February 25, 1995 issue of Billboard, which featured the annual "Indies Spotlight" and covered independent music between the January 29, 1994 and January 21, 1995 issues of the magazine, included A Meeting by the River at number ten on its list of the "Top Indie World Music Albums".[16] The album is included in Tom Moon's 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List.[9]

Chart (1993) Peak
position
Billboard's Top World Music Albums 4

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt unless noted otherwise.

  1. "A Meeting by the River" – 10:03
  2. "Longing" – 11:56
  3. "Ganges Delta Blues" – 9:57
  4. "Isa Lei" (Caten) – 7:39

Track listing adapted from Allmusic.[2]

Personnel[edit]

Ry Cooder performing in 2009

Credits adapted from Allmusic.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (2006). The Essential Rock Discography. Canongate U.S. p. 223. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gioffre, Daniel. "A Meeting by the River". Allmusic. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ Kumar, Sanjay (February 4, 2005). "Meeting by the backwaters". The Hindu (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India: The Hindu Group). ISSN 0971-751X. OCLC 13119119. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Margasak, Peter (July 22, 1993). "Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt A Meeting by the River...". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). ISSN 1085-6706. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Plasketes, George (2009). B-sides, Undercurrents and Overtones: Peripheries to Popular in Music, 1960 to the Present. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 92–93. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ Frith, Simon; Straw, Will; Street, John (2001). The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Cambridge University Press. p. 284. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Morris, Chris (May 4, 1996). "Musical Hybrids Thrive at Water Lily". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 108 (18): 55–56. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "A Meeting by the River: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Moon, Tom (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List. Workman Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7611-3963-8. OCLC 179803341. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Grammy award winner pays tributes to Guru Kelucharan". The Hindu (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India: The Hindu Group). September 11, 2011. ISSN 0971-751X. OCLC 13119119. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  11. ^ Sheikh, Shahzeb (December 12, 2010). "Spotlight: Soulful stirrings". Dawn (Saddar, Karachi, Pakistan: Dawn Group of Newspapers). Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. pp. 188–189. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ "A Meeting by the River: Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Grammy Winners". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). March 3, 1994. p. 2. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  15. ^ Ravi, Bhama Devi (February 2, 2010). "Rahman's individual Grammy a first for India". The Times of India (New Delhi, Delhi, India: The Times Group). OCLC 23379369. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  16. ^ Mayfield, Geoff. "Charting the Best Indies: Top Indie World Music Albums". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 107 (8): 126. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 

External links[edit]