Born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in 1963 to a family with a long musical lineage, Debashish Bhattacharya started learning Indian music from his parents before he learned the alphabet. In his childhood, he mastered many Indian classical instrumental styles as well as vocal music from different musical teachers in Kolkata.
For ten years, he became a disciple and student of Brij Bhushan Khabra, the father of Indian classical guitar, and then also trained under Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, the eminent Indian vocalist. He has also studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. At the age of 4, Debashish gave his first guitar recital at a public concert, broadcast on the All India Radio. In his teens and twenties, he advanced his unique style of playing guitar, and at the age of 21, was awarded the President of India award. Debashish's development of new slide guitars sets him apart from other artists, both on the international circuit and among Indian musicians who play Indian music on western instruments.
His Hindustani Slide Guitar is a completely new instrument: by modifying and adding strings to the western guitar, Debashish has been able to create uniquely Indian sounds and techniques which recall other classical Indian instruments, such as the veena, sarod, sitar and santoor. These astonishing techniques are innovative both in Indian classical music, and among guitarists of every genre worldwide. Debashish developed his innovative twenty-four-string Hindustani Slide Guitar after years of research and experience. In addition to the six normal strings of a standard Hawaiian guitar, there are also twelve sympathetic strings, four supporting strings, and a pair of chikari strings (which provide high rhythmic drones).
One of Debashish's innovations was to move the pair of chikari strings to the treble side of the guitar, which enables far more complex playing, as these rhythmic drones can be played by the fingers over other melodies simultaneously. Debashish plays lap-style while sitting cross-legged, with a small steel bar, metal finger picks and a thumb pick. These technical innovations, combined with his incredible talent and discipline, render Debashish as one of the greatest slide guitarists who has ever lived, elevating the Hindustani Slide Guitar to be the highest evolution of slide guitar anywhere.
Though he is often compared to V.M. Bhatt, there is little basis for comparison: Debashish's music has greater musical range, physical dexterity and emotional depth. Additionally, to develop his playing, he has undergone decades of disciplined study of Indian vocal technique combined with his instrumental work. Debashish can sing perfectly in parallel with every blindingly fast melody he plays.
Possessed of a very open musical mind, Debashish is eager and exceedingly qualified to collaborate and truly blend with musicians from any other country. Bob Brozman initially met Debashish and his younger brother Subhashis in 1996 for the first of two 'World of Slide' tours of the USA and Canada. An immediate friendship was obvious from the first note, and they have since played together in India, Canada, South Africa and Hawaii, on occasion with vocalist Sutapa Bhattacharya. Debashish and Bob have also toured with Takashi Hirayasu (Okinawa) and René Lacaille (La Réunion Island), both of whom have also recorded with Bob for Riverboat Records. More recently, Debashish has toured Europe and recorded with John McLaughlin and his latest incarnation of Shakti.Courtesy Calabash Music