A Meeting by the River
|A Meeting by the River|
|Studio album by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt|
|Genre||Blues, international, New Age, pop rock|
|Label||Water Lily Acoustics|
|Producer||Kavichandran Alexander, Jayant Shah|
|Ry Cooder chronology|
|Vishwa Mohan Bhatt chronology|
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. 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.
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. Allmusic's Daniel Gioffre described the instrument as a "hybrid" between a guitar and a vichitra veena, performed with a metal slide moving across steel rods along the neck. 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. 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"). The album was produced by Kavichandran Alexander (founder of Water Lily Acoustics) 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.
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. Author George Plasketes described Bhatt's playing as "highly nuanced" while Cooder performs in a more "loose-jointed, slip 'n' slide style". According to Gioffre, Cooder and Bhatt use improvisation and "voice-like" phrasing, showing melodic performances in an alternating fashion and in unison. 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. "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". 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." Bhatt has stated that he considers working with Cooder his "most special" collaboration.
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." 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. Rolling Stone called the album "fruitful" and awarded it three out of five stars.
Chart performance and recognition
A Meeting by the River reached a peak position of number four on Billboard's Top World Music Albums chart. In 1994, the album earned Cooder and Bhatt Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album. 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. 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". The album is included in Tom Moon's 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List.
|Billboard's Top World Music Albums||4|
- "A Meeting by the River" – 10:03
- "Longing" – 11:56
- "Ganges Delta Blues" – 9:57
- "Isa Lei" (Caten) – 7:39
Track listing adapted from Allmusic.
- Kavichandran Alexander – engineer, liner notes, producer
- Vishwa Mohan Bhatt – Mohan veena, performer, slide guitar
- Joachim Cooder – dumbek
- Ry Cooder – bottleneck guitar, guitar, performer
- Tim de Paravicini – technical consultant
- Kevin Michael Gray – mastering
- Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari – tabla
- Rumi – liner notes, quotes
- Mike Sexton – cover photo, photography
- Jayant Shah – producer
- Leslie Shirack – art direction
- Gus Skinas – authoring
- Paul Stubblebine – digital mastering
- Susan Titelman – photography
Credits adapted from Allmusic.
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- Jazz.com review by Ted Gioia (2008)
- "How high do you want your fi?", a 2009 Stereophile article featuring A Meeting by the River