Born: October 30, 1951 Primary Instrument: Tablas
A world class, virtuoso percussionist, now in his mid fifties, Trilok has attracted a world class set of collaborators over a long career; these started with John McLaughlin in whose trio, Trilok flourished as the featured soloist for 4 years, other jazz greats continued this path Joe Zawinul, Jan Garbarek, Don Cherry, Bill Evans, Pharoah Sanders, Dave Holland were all attracted to Trilok’s burning sense of rhythm. Of course he is deeply rooted in the Indian tradition, so it is no surprise to see that collaborations also took place with the glitterati of Indian musical society his mother, Shobha Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, L. Shankar, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariprasad Chaurasia, The Misra Brothers and Sultan Khan. World music has become an established genre in which Trilok has further “ploughed his own furrow” with his own group, to great effect, performing and recording with Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Angelique Kidjo, Neneh Cherry, Omara Portuondo, Tuvan throat singers, Huun Huur Tu, to such effect that . Rita Ray of BBC Radio described him as “a serial collaborator”.
Trilok Gurtu was born into a highly musical family in Bombay, India where his grandfather was a noted Sitar player and his mother Shobha Gurtu, a classical singing star and constant influence. He began to play practically from infancy at the age of six. Eventually Trilok traveled to Europe, joining up with trumpeter Don Cherry for two years; touring worldwide with Oregon, the highly respected jazz group and was an important part of the quartet that L. Shankar led with Jan Garbarek and Zakir Hussain.
In 1988 Trilok performed with his own group, finally being able to present his compositions on the debut album “Usfret” which many musicians claim as an important influence; young Asian musicians from London like Talvin Singh, Asian Dub Foundation and Nitin Sawhney see him as a mentor and so Trilok’s work finds its way onto the turntables at dance clubs years later. But back in 1988 Trilok met The Mahavishnu Orchestra and its leader, JohnMcLaughlin and for the next four years played an integral part in The John McLaughlin Trio.
Trilok toured with his own trio in support of the 1993 album “The Crazy Saints” which featured not only Joe Zawinul but also Pat Metheny. Audiences were enthralled by his compositions that linked subtle Indian rhythms and Indian singing with elements of modern jazz and rock. The following year the band was expanded to a quartet and touring extended to include a US coast-to-coast tour and 40+ European shows.
Band tours continued annually establishing Trilok Gurtu as a regular and popular visitor to many European and US cities; his group, The Glimpse was formed in 1996 which grew from his musical roots in India’s timeless acoustic tradition. By the late 90’s they were touring worldwide and appearing in Festivals where he performed alongside the megastars of the entertainment business (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, REM) as well as his colleagues in the World Music scene like Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal, Cesaria Evora and Salif Keita. The “Kathak,” “African Fantasy,” and “Beat of Love” cds came about in 1998 to ’99.
By 2000 as a direct result of these years: Trilok’s music entered a distinctly World Music setting. - a new sound that contained the core of his previous works but expanded on it allowing guest singers like Neneh Cherry, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo and Oumou Sangare to display their talents on Trilok’s own recordings.
When Trilok hit the live performance circuit in 2000 and 2001, audiences saw the group with special guest appearances by Nitin Sawhney,Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita and “The Beat Of Love”producer Wally Badarou in New York and London. In between group performances he appeared at a number of prestigious solo percussion recitals and gave guest performances on albums by John McLaughlin, Pharoah Sanders, Nitin Sawhney, Lalo Schifrin, Gilberto Gil, Bill Laswell & Annie Lennox.
The release of “Remembrance” in 2002 was a major milestone for Trilok. The guests Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain, Ronu Majumdar and Shobha Gurtu gave superb performances. Combined with extensive touring across Europe and especially Scandinavia, this led to Trilok’s second nomination for the BBC World Music Awards and for an EMMA. Stand out performances were at London’s Hyde Park for the Queen’s 50 th Anniversary and in Bombay as part of a global satellite-delivered concert with Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal celebrating the BBC’s 70 th Anniversary of their World Service.
2003 saw a wide variety of over 50 performances all over the globe from Trilok Gurtu in quartet, trio and solo formats. His first collaboration in an orchestral piece took place in Koln in October, with the World Premiere of “Chalan” written especially for him by Maurizio Sotelo. Other key 2003 performances were at Cité de la Musique, Paris in April with special guest Shankar Mahadevan; in Utrecht with Robert Miles, Kudsi Erguner and Hassan Harkmoun and in Sardinia with Dave Holland. The most spectacular was certainly in Copenhagen at “The Images of Asia Festival” where he orchestrated a joint performance of his own band with Samul Nori (Korean Percussionist) and Huun Huur Tu (Mongolian Throat Singers). All this on a floating stage in Copenhagen Harbour at sunset quite delicious!
Trilok started 2004 with a 10-date tour of Norway in February followed by an extensive tour of 25 concerts in France to announce the release of his eleventh cd “Broken Rhythms.” As with all Trilok records, the accent was on rhythm and drumming but this one more so. Featured collaborations with the Tuvan Throat Singers Huun Huur Tu, the Arké String Quartet and an outstanding screaming guitar part from Gary Moore bring a heady mix of bright and fast with gentle and peaceful.
Since 2006, Trilok has recorded and performed with the Malian musicians from the Frikywa Family and the Italian, Arke String Quartet. Although these performances continue, he has also formed a World Music group featuring Bass, Guitar, Violin, Didjeridoo and Santoor which showcases his talents thru the coming seasons. He also offered his “Twenty Years of Talking Tabla” a solo event focusing on speech and tabla, with a chance for small audiences to exchange musical views with him and learn about his broad compositional techniques. “Twenty Years of Talking Tabla,” on cd release, is a 20-year journey through Trilok Gurtu’s career this carefully chosen compilation shows him with his usual array of collaborators in a compilation set.