With his debut solo album, To Begin With, Ritesh Das invites listeners to join him on a groundbreaking musical voyage that seamlessly blends the vibrant mastery of the tabla and transcends borders with a fusion of genres. This energetic and visionary album is a harmonious blend of meditation, psychology, and celebration.
The second single and music video from this album, “Forgiveness of Trees,” as a distinctive blend of tabla and rock and roll, featuring the raw vocals of Canadian rock icon Bif Naked and the powerful guitar work of Ash Ravens.
Das’s solo venture unfolds a new chapter in his illustrious career as the celebrated leader and founder of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. The 66-year-old percussion maestro, originally from Calcutta and now based in Toronto, exhibits a sophisticated celebration of artistry in “To Begin With.”
Crafted during a time when travel was no longer an option, Das mastered composing and recording software, leveraging technology and his home studio. The album not only highlights his diverse musical skills but also features a unique fusion of live instrumentation with programmed beats, samples and orchestral instruments.
“To Begin With” includes collaborations with world-class talents, such as the Montreal klezmer outfit Oktopus (‘Ot Azoy’), Egyptian vocalist Maryem Tollar, and sarod maestro Manik Khan (‘Ta Alu Nitabill’), along with Canadian rocker Bif Naked (‘Forgiveness of Trees’).
Ritesh Das, a tabla virtuoso, and the visionary founder of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, has played a pivotal role in shaping the global music scene since the early 1970s. Born in Calcutta, India, Das embarked on a remarkable career marked by innovation and cultural fusion. As the artistic director of the Juno-nominated Toronto Tabla Ensemble, he seamlessly blends traditional tabla rhythms with diverse musical elements from around the world. His dedication to pushing the boundaries of traditional music has earned him recognition and acclaim, establishing him as a respected authority in the world of percussion and fusion. Das’s influence extends to music education, where he imparts his knowledge and passion for tabla to aspiring musicians.
Bif Naked is a celebrated and notorious performer in music, TV, film, and dance; a writer and poet; and a tireless advocate and humanitarian. Orphaned in India, emancipated by punk rock, and empowered by surviving breast cancer, kidney failure, heart surgery, divorce, and surviving as a Woman in The Entertainment Industry for twenty-five years. Bif is a platinum-selling recording artist, a best-selling author, a passionate entrepreneur, and advises and coaches other artists as a mentor and manager. She is an animal rights and human rights advocate and activist, there is nothing that could stop her! Bif has transcended any obstacles placed in her path to become one of the world’s most unique, recognizable and beloved icons.
Nominated for ‘Newcomer of the Year 2022’ by Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, and recipient of the SEED Award by City of Ottawa; the Bangladesh born, globe-trotting artist Ash Ravens has made Ottawa his home in 2021 after living & playing in Melbourne, Australia and Los Angeles, USA. Although he is new to the Canadian music scene, he is already making waves blessed with a recognizable sound full of guitar driven songs and virtuosic instrumentals and has performed in RBC Bluesfest, Citysounds Festival and Encore Ottawa. With musical talent to bridge the many genres in his music from rock to country; an electrifying stage presence backed by a solid band composed of Ottawa’s best musicians, Ash Ravens is a musical treat to experience.
The collaboration with Bif Naked and Ash Ravens on “Forgiveness of Trees” was inspired by a shared concern for nature and its impact on the environment. Das, impressed by Bif’s sensitivity, proposed the theme of “trees” for their collaboration, prompting her to write this song pleading for forgiveness from the trees and nature itself.
This release offers a glimpse into Das’s ability to seamlessly blend musical traditions and create impactful narratives that resonate globally. The varied sonic landscapes exhibit a dynamic blend of spirituality and technology, forming a soundtrack for a globe-trotting adventure film.
Das, a multifaceted artist with a storied career, reflects on his journey from Calcutta to Toronto and the evolution of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. Having crossed Canada multiple times and mesmerized audiences internationally, Das’s compositions have earned recognition, including nominations for Global Music Awards, Independent Music Awards and Juno Awards.
As a restless artist, Das is already looking ahead to his next solo release, demonstrating his commitment to continual exploration. With projects ranging from radio-station themes to orchestral compositions, film scoring opportunities, and a return to performing with the Ensemble, Das’s inventive spirit continues to shape the musical landscape.