The Summer Solstice, Father's Day, rich blue sky with warm winds. We gathered: students from every decade, well back into the 60's, admirers from nearby and abroad, friends from every context and almost every continent, musicians of every stripe and creed, family, families, fellow teachers, all of us honored, blessed, downright lucky to have studied with or known such a magnificent musician, such a compassionate teacher.
We spoke of the power of his music, the way one note could break your heart, the way one note, pulled two steps this way, one step that and every shruti (micro-tone) in between, could be melody, the way he could make the hair rise on the back of your neck, the top of your head expand, spin, take off. We spoke of Khansahib's generosity with his music, his willingness to teach anyone, to water our world with the likes of Rag Chandranandan, Desh Malhar, Bhimpalashri. In the heat of a Marin afternoon, thuds and dribbles of red earth, pebbles, roses echoed from the butterscoth-blonde hills as we each marked our last tangible connection with this giant of a musician, this short Bengali with the knowing smirk, the generous smile and the all-encompassing desire for us to learn to "sing like handwriting--not typewriters", our Baba, our Swara Samrat, Emperor of Melody.
The Ali Akbar College of Music that he founded in San Rafael, California, is in the midst of preserving and archiving thousands of hours of his music and teachings. In lieu of flowers, or if you just want to help, the family asks for donations to continue the cause.
And if you are unfamiliar with his music, this is a pretty decent YouTube video: