BENGALURU: I had grown up listening to Kadri ji, the legend who had always had a mesmerising effect on me. It was my great fortune that in the year 1998, I got an opportunity to compose and perform alongside this maestro. The album was Raag Rang, and it was recorded in Arvind Studios, in the bylanes of Hanumanthnagar, Bengaluru. I have always considered him my guru, for the simple reason that he agreed to perform with me though I was a non-entity then, and he, a legend.
Very few artistes have this quality of encouraging younger artistes, and I was fortunate to have found him like a lamp in the darkness. That the album became an all-time hit and a milestone in Karnataka’s music history was possible only because he believed in my music and talent.
He was, completely devoted to his god, the saxophone. He would always carry his instrument himself and never allowed anyone to touch it. He had decorated it with many of the gold medals he had been conferred with, and it became an invaluable instrument in the hands of a master craftsman. He had developed special techniques and mastered them to produce the difficult nuances of our music.
He was a pioneer and a trendsetter. For the past two decades, our jugalbandis were a rage among music connoisseurs all over the world. Every concert that I performed with him is etched in my memory, and every outing was a new lesson. He was a thorough professional. He wanted the listeners to have a memorable experience every time he went on to the stage. There was never a dull moment during his performance. He always allowed me and the accompanists to take solos and shine. He encouraged us to do better, and that is a true quality of a guru. His repertoire ranged from traditional Carnatic kritis to Hindustani ragas, dasarapadas to bhajans, tillanas and much more.
On stage and off, he was delightful company. A true legend, a musician par excellence and a wonderful human being. His music is immortal and his demise has created a vacuum that can never be filled. Will miss you, dear Kadri anna. A tearful musical farewell to my mentor! I owe my music to you, Kadri anna. Rest in Peace.
(The writer is a classical flautist)