I returned from my 3 month Europe sabbatical with a backpack full of wine and cheese, a heart full of memories from the recent past and an empty mind, not knowing the fate of things to come…
For one final attempt at inspirational direction, I headed to Singapore, home to my parents and coincidentally at that point in time, Mamady Keita’s Mini Guinea Djembe Workshop organized by Kelvin Kew’s lila Drums. It was this experience that started it all for me in my opinion. It seemed to be the perfect blend of creative energy, warmth, hospitality, instruction, information, direction, structure and vibe.
I returned to India after having made many a connection with people who share the same mission, that of rhythm and most importantly,after having rekindled the connection to my own rhythm.
The idea of Taal Inc. that was brewing on the back-burner and surfacing as the intermittent community drum circle and the odd innovative rhythmic idea had boiled over on more than one occasion by now… It was hence, time for the plunge.
Treading on uncharted territory, it was only after a while and kind guidance from friends that the legalities of Taal Inc. got in place and I decided to start traditional West-African Djembe class at the High Spirits Cafe’, Pune, thanks to the kindness of owner and supporter of the Arts, Khodu Irani. As curious and motivated students gravitated towards this class, it seemed to me that this path was the need of the hour and I carried on.
Simultaneously, I rounded up some of my drumkit students and introduced them to the djembe hoping it would have the same effect when I was shown the djembe for the first time by my first drum teacher and mentor Mr. Zubin Balsara. After several attempts at this, I managed to find three crusaders to add to the roster; Mr. Agneya ‘Topgun’ Chikte, Mr. Dhir Mody and Mr. Bipin Revankar. Out of these three, Bipin was the only one who had actually played a Djembe before this. Agneya and Dhir were ready to learn and learn, they did. I found another enthusiastic multi-talented character, Mr. Amar Kulkarni for the Sangban and Kenkeni and his partner in crime, Mr. Abhijit ‘Zee Zoo’ Jejurikar on Dununba. Zee Zoo is originally a keyboard player who will give his arm and a leg for the love of music. To add some melody to the otherwise only percussive mayhem, I asked my dear friends Wendy Burby (who is the official Taal Inc. All-Round-Cool-Person) Pragnya ‘Yogi Bear’ Wakhlu and Vineet Alurkar to join in. Now that I look back, I think that there is some greater force at play here that attracted this mad bunch of gems to each other because I cannot think of doing anything without them today – the birth of the Taal Inc. Rhythm Ensemble
|The Taal Inc. Rhythm Ensemble|
After checking with Khodu, I decided that the 9th of February 2011 would be the day that the Taal Inc. Students Ensemble & the Taal Inc. Rhythm Ensemble would make their début performances. This would be the birth of Taal Inc. celebrated by an evening of percussion and joy.
As the day neared my wandering soul was given direction by the kindness of Wendy Burby, Sneha Nair and Solonie Singh Pathania (who is now an integral part of team Taal Inc.)
|The Taal Inc. Launch Event at the High Spirits Cafe, Koregaon Park, Pune.|
I approached the very talented, Nikhil More to put a symbol to this spirit that is Taal Inc.; an icon that people from every background would be able to associate with. This led to the creation of the logo.
|The Taal Inc. Logo by Nikhil More|
At his point it was important to communicate to people what exactly Taal Inc. is and for that I had the calm, precise, meticulous and creative eye of Afrah Shafiq who shot ‘The Spirit of the Circle,’ a documentary film about Taal Inc. Drum Circles.
The rate of movement was and continues to be overwhelming. At this point I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for being here in person, in spirit and in rhythm. Taal Inc. is where it is and has achieved what it has only because every single one of you have played your parts in its evolution.
I would like to welcome Janak Vadgama (my oldest friend and confidant with whom I’d talk about the idea that is today, Taal Inc.) and Anand Godse (my friend, who with his maverick research mind steers the newest training division of the company) to the family of Taal Inc.
The Taal Inc. family as we see it today:
Agneya Chikte (Djembe/prodigy), Dhir Mody (Djembe/Prodigy), Bipin Revankar (Djembe), Amar Kulkarni (Sangban/Didge), Solonie Singh Pathania (Brand Manager/Kenkeni), Abhijit Jejurikar (Dununba/Bouncer), Shreyas Iyengar (Dununba), Gandhaar Amin (Sangban/Flute), Yamini Lavanian (Vocal/bouncer), Wendy Burby (Vocal/All Round Cool Person), Pragnya Wakhlu (Vocal), Vineet Alurkar (Vocal), Vaibhavi Karad (Vocal), Sharwari Chitale (Vocal/Bouncer), Michelle Manuel (Vocal), Denzil Fernandez (Sound), Nitin Joshi (Sound), Janak Vadgama (Executive Manager), A. Godse (Behavioural Trainer), Quinn Reesor (Mentor), Tara Tucker (Mentor), Kelvin Kew (Mentor), Mamady Keita (Master/Inspiration), Nikhil More (Visual Artist), Afrah Shafiq (Documentary Film Maker), Aditi Bandekar (Artist/Physiotherapist), Sonia Sumant (Artist/President – Taal Inc. Wives Club), Tanya Ginwala (Badge-Maker), Kishore Kumar (Filmstar/Website Designer), Salil P.A (Website Designer), Tullika Sonam Wangdi (Bouncer), Animesh Mathur (Photographer), Neel Shah (Supporter), Ajinkya Chikte (Social Media Consultant), Kanchan Gokhale (Stylist/Bouncer), Chris Fonceca (Guitars), Michael Pereira (Bass), Savio Sebastian (Guitars), Vishal Gore (Supporter), Anand Bhagat (Djembe), Victoria Bourke (Djembe), Clio (Harp), Amruta Kher (Researcher/Fortune Teller), Dhanashree Bhagwat (Researcher), Maithili Pendse (Researcher), Omkar Bhanushali (Researcher), Ravi Vazirani (Videographer), Ravi Dodeja (Printer), Santosh Kaka (Transport), Rushad Mistry (Music Consultant), Bhrigu Sahni (Guitars) and You…
Come. Drum. Be One.