Raga Jog, the harbinger of hope, longing and tragedy. The super-pentatonic raga (omitting the Second and Fifth in both the ascent and descent) Jog also signifies union, that of the soul with the Supreme Being. Shrimati Girija Devi, the redoubtable doyenne of the Benares gharana mellifluously justifies the raga’s basic melodic temper by interpreting it in her characteristic thumri style. The entire composition in Vilambit ektaal – the twelve-beat, slow tempoed rhythm
played on the tabla, has a feel of maha arati being conducted close to the awesome ghats of Benares. Swara groupings like Sa Ni Ga Sa and Ni Pa Ga Sa Ni Dha breathe with a soul that can only result from dedicated riyaaz of a raga that bears close resemblance to the Carnatic raga Nat.
The doyenne’s accompanist on the sarangi, Santosh Mishra, not only mimics the intricate Jog nuances perfectly but even manages to enhance the entire recital by imposing his distinct melodic stamp on it. The petite chota khayal Kanha mori aja hun na aaye with swinging, swashbuckling taans tops the flavor of this soulful yet impish raga. At the close of the monsoons a thumri in Mishra Desh with its oomph and longing is just what the doctor ordered. The reference to looming grey clouds and the Papiha’s repeated cries in the context of physical separation and the attendant yearning could have only been wrought with such passionate abandon by this diva of the Benares School of Music. It is not for nothing that the Times Music group named this album DIVA. The rhythmic interpretation of this avid monsoonal thumri by
tabla maestro Sandeep Das is an additional aural bonus, a pleasant rain shower of melody.
Not to be missed, monsoons or no.