The Toronto Tabla Ensemble go back to the future with their nostalgic new video for the single Encore 21 — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Featuring high-velocity tabla and other percussion, along with rapid-fire recitation of tabla bols (language) by TTE founder and composer Ritesh Das, Encore 21 has the power to propel anyone into a joyous state with its infectious energy. However, playing this composition requires a sobering amount of skill and practice.
“I originally wrote this piece for the Youth Ensemble,” explains Das. “A fast-paced and high-energy composition to keep their chops up as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and prepare for in-person shows again.”
Encore 21 is the second preview of the ensemble’s eighth album For the Love of Tabla, due in March. It’s a joyfully collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort between teachers, students of all levels, and artistic colleagues. “I worked with my tabla student Kolston Gogan, who is a professional drummer, to work out the kit drum parts and also for him to work with Jishnu Parekh, a youth member who had just started learning drum kit,” notes Das.
If Encore 21 sounds like the jubilant finalé to a TTE show, it shouldn’t be surprising. It certainly isn’t to Melissa Das-Arp, TTE manager and film director. “When I heard this piece, the speed and energy reminded me of a typical encore that the Toronto Tabla Ensemble would perform at the end of a show,” she notes. “This usually involves the entire cast of the TTE including dancers up on stage led by Ritesh Das himself on the mic, driving the performers and hyping up the audience so they would literally rise to their feet.”
The memory of her husband vocally leading end-of-show celebrations prompted Das-Arp to request that he record and add the tabla bols recitation that’s become a key part of Encore 21. “Ritesh obliged to my request and recorded his recitation, which is basically the language of the tabla,” she says. “However, the way he weaves melody and feeling into it is one of a kind.”
Das-Arp also reached a century back for the inspiration to create the unique and artfully retro video for Encore 21, which features Ritesh, TTE members and Kathak dancers from both Ontario and California. “While listening to the song, the visuals of the performers started showing up for me in a black-and-white, vintage look and I thought, ‘I wonder what this type of show would look like 100 years ago’? Back then there were no smartphones and we really only saw what was curated from a mainly western perspective. Who knows what really happened and perhaps shows like this did actually happen.”
Beyond performing, Das also had a hand in the creation of the video utilizing his skills as photographer to help set the stage into a 1920s film set. “If I didn’t love music and teaching tabla as much as I do, I would have been a photographer,” he says. “I love playing with lighting and shadows, especially black and whites.”