07 April 2007

Six Degrees of Ravi Shankar

This week I had the great fun of putting together a radio show to celebrate Ravi Shankar's birthday (it's today!). I'd never played the Kevin Bacon game, but the whole thing was a lot like doing genealogy; after a while you find so many leads you have to start making choices about which ones to follow. (Thanks to Matt for pointing out that Ravi Shankar has a "Bacon number" of 3, according to the entrancing Oracle of Bacon.)

You can see the resulting Spin The Globe playlist (or even listen for the next week or so). I was a bit surprised to learn that I have a third-degree connection to Ravi Shankar through at least two paths.

In my research, I came to a point when I realized how broad this could get. That was the point at which I had connected Ravi Shankar to some prolific collaborators: Ray Lema, Trilok Gurtu, Sting, and Bill Laswell. Laswell alone, it seems has worked with half of all living musicians. Kind of took the challenge out of the search, though it did open up a lot of new connections.

Although I played her little sister Tigist singing with Bole2Harlem, I didn't play any music by Ethiopian singer Gigi,Gigi: Gold and Wax who was (is? are they still together?) with Tabla Beat Science alongside Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale, and Zakir Hussain. Zakir Hussain, of course, has a direct link to Ravi Shankar, having performed with him. So that gives Gigi a second-degree connection to Ravi.

[mp3] Gigi: Enoralehu
from her 2006 album Gold and Wax

Oh, and you can catch some Ravi Shankar videos at youtube -- they've got his performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, at the 1972 Concert for Bangladesh, and on the Dick Cavett Show.

Happy Birthday, Ravi!

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