Toronto Tabla Ensemble has a new album out with some… Unexpected Guests
Juno-nominated world ensemble Toronto Tabla Ensemble is having a party with some Unexpected Guests on this, its newest album release.
The seven tracks weave together a variety of instruments, including percussion, bagpipes, piano, taiko drums, sarod, and flute, while staying rooted by traditional tabla.
“This album is a simple one,” TTE founder and artistic director Ritesh Das said. ”Most of the tracks are in very straightforward 4/4 grooves. On our other albums, you had tracks with different time signatures that made it really intellectual and complicated.
“I wanted this one to be something that anyone can sit back and listen to and enjoy.”
Unexpected Guests is the latest in a series of boldly collaborative and sonically expansive works for the group. In keeping with its eye-opening title, the immersive and diverse album finds Ritesh and TTE hosting a party of musical visitors: Enter The Haggis bagpipe player Craig Downie, Japanese Taiko Ensemble Nagata Shachu, singer Maryem Hassan Tollar, violinist Raaginder Singh Momi, flautist Alysha Addetia and more.
When you hear the title track from the album, it’s not hard to imagine why the music video features groups of Scottish and Indian dancers. Co-composed by Craig Downie, it’s dominated by bagpipes, it incorporates a traditional strathspey and reel, and the beginning and end of the song were composed in memory of Ellen Wilkes Irmisch, a highland dancer and stage actor from the Tartan Terrors.
The video features dancers from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, explained TTE’s manager and film director Melissa Das-Arp.
“Seeing people of all ages and backgrounds dancing, wearing their tartans and sashes, we knew it could work but… Would they be open to the idea of dancing in a Toronto Tabla Ensemble music video?” she asked.
“Lucky for us, they were intrigued and wanted to learn more. We attended a few meetings and even participated in one of the dances.
“When we played ‘Unexpected Guests’ for them, dancers between the ages of 15 and 75 got up and joyfully danced around the room already beginning to work out choreography. That’s when we knew we were in business!”
“As this is a collaboration between ‘Bagpipe and Tabla’ — Scotland and India — we had visualized an Indian folk dance called ‘Dandiya Raas: Dandiya meaning sticks and Raas emotions,’” Melissa said. “It has a similar community feeling to the Scottish Country Dance, and is a type of folk dance where people of all ages and genders line up and dance together.
“The day of the shoot was absolute chaos! There were Indian and Scottish dancers in every room, costumes and garment racks were busting at the seams, there were line-ups for hair and make-up, coffee, tea and of course, some delicious Indian snacks.
After 12 hours on the set and what felt like a thousand takes, we finally had what we needed.
“We feel lucky that we were able to complete this project when we did,” Melissa added, noting the February 2020 date. “Had we set our shoot just a few weeks later, it would not have been possible.”