Warren's Blog

The Antigravity Ensemble
Pune, Maharashtra State, India
December 1985 - September 1991
from the liner notes to the Antigravity CD

When I began putting together the Indian Antigravity ensemble in late 1985, my first contact was Ramakant Paranjpe. Although we had met before, he had never given any thought to playing jazz or experimental music. As we rehearsed, I came to appreciate Ramakant's many gifts: he's an excellent sight-reader (of North Indian notation), thoroughly versed in the ragas of Hindustani tradition, and a great improvisor with exquisite intonation and a singing tone. After we'd been practicing together for a while he mentioned a friend who played the bamboo flute - and would surely be interested in this new music. When Ajit Soman came over we got along splendidly, and the music began to take off even more. Ajit's flute playing is different from that of any other Indian musician I've heard. He brings a restless, inquiring and humorous personality to his instrument, creating new approaches to rhythm, melody and the construction of solos. He's a composer and percussionist as well, and good company to boot.

After we had done our premiere Indian performance (with Antigravity alumnus Phil Scarff visiting from the USA and joining us on soprano sax), Ramakant and Ajit said they had another friend, a sitarist, who was right up my alley. That was how I met Atul Keskar, who had started out as a child prodigy in Indian music (first performance at the age of six!). Atul took to our music immediately, and began listening avidly to jazz records to pick up inflections and rhythms. Hearing him play "Billie's Bounce" on the sitar was an experience I've never forgotten!

With these three, my electric bass, and the tabla of Mayuresh Godse, the ensemble seemed complete for a while. Then in late 1986 a series of changes took place. Vijaya Sundaram joined the band on acoustic guitar and voice, bringing harmonic flavorings and melodic colors. Over the years that we've worked together I enjoy her accompaniment more and more; simultaeously she has built her own solo guitar style. She's a versatile and gifted musician, never afraid to take chances in improvisation. At the same time, the rhythm section changed, with Shreenivas Renavikar playing tabla, and Rajiv Devasthali playing percussion (It was at this time that Rajiv gave me the greatest gift possible by introducing me to his father, Pandit S. G. Devasthali, my own teacher of khyal vocal music). The band worked like this for seven or eight months, performing in different venues in Maharashtra. In May 1987 I returned to the United States, and things went on hold.

I returned to India on January 1st, 1988. We started work again, but it was extremely complicated. Arranging rehearsals had always been tough, but for most of 1988 it seemed that we were never able to get everybody together in one place at one time! Finally we gave one concert at the end of the year, shortly after Vijaya and I got married on December 4th, 1988. The front line was the same, but Sudhir Parkhi, one of Rajiv Devasthali's students, was playing percussion; Jim DiSpirito was on tabla.

During 1989 and the first eight months of 1990 Vijaya and I were in the U.S.A. I knew that the group needed to record in India, and this project was always on my mind. John Styklunas completed my new collapsible, floor model electric double-bass (weighing just eleven pounds!) just a few days before our departure for India in September 1990. I didn't get a chance to start playing it until we arrived.

Shortly after we'd gotten settled in our Pune apartment, Ashish Manchanda knocked at the door and introduced himself. As soon as he sat down to play on my percussion setup I knew that we had found the missing ingredient. With Sudhir on tabla, the rhythm section was complete. Fortunately, the Ishwani Kendra Studio was available to us during our stay, and Edwin Vas, a skilled engineer. Over the year that we spent in Pune, we recorded eleven pieces, nine of which are heard here. We hope you enjoy this music as much as we did.

Warren Senders-Antigravity
Box 1634, Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA 02238


2002 All rights reserved to Warren Senders and OMRadio.com