Dr. N. RAMANI was born in 1934 in Tiruvarur, a town in Tamil Nadu, in the south of India, and an important musical centre (Thyagaraja, probably the greatest Karnatic composer of all time was born there),and as is true for the majority of Indian classical musicians he hails from a family who have for centuries handed down the instrumentalist art, bequeathing a love for traditional sounds to each successive generation. RAMANI first began to play the bamboo flute (known as a venu and regarded as sacred to Krishna), which is smaller than that played in northern India, under his grandfather's guidance when he was still a small child, RAMANI's musical training continued under the tutelage of Mali (who died in 1986) an eccentric maestro of genius, who intuited in the infant RAMANI a musician of genius and persuaded him to follow him to Madras (now Chennai) to perfect and sharpen his playing technique. Although learning considerably from Mali's teaching, RAMANI has been able to evolve his own style detaching himself from the original model to arrive at a refined and highly personal language of his own, which has brought him to a position of pre-eminence among his country's fellow artists, even more so considering that the bamboo flute is one of the most important traditional Indian instruments.
Live in Madras the recording we present here, is testimony of RAMANI's ability during live performance to maintain the high levels of concentration required to execute the Karnatic ragas featured, which generally tend to be of shorter duration than those of Hindustani music. The ability to introduce within a short time frame colours and embellishments to the main theme, and to create particular atmospheres, thus becomes the determining principle by which the quality of the player is distinguished. On Live in Madras however, you can also hear a wonderful interpretation di Swararaaga Sudharasa, one of the celebrated Thyagaraja's masterpieces, in which improvisations come one upon the other without pausing for. Worthy of note too are the combinations of instruments: Pitchumani's veena (forbear of the sitar) and the violin of Bhaskaran are able to mingle intelligently and harmonically with the sound produced by RAMANI's flute, supported by the solid percussion of the gatham and mridangam. Although for lovers of Indian music a musician of Dr. N. RAMANI 's calibre certainly has no need of presentation, we can say that without doubt Live in Madras will contribute to widening the knowledge of his art, making it available to a broader public.