The album even contains the popular song much loved by Gandhi, ‘Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye Je’, a splendid instrumental version that again fusions the bansuri and the Portuguese guitar. A tune whose original lyrics contain beautiful and profound teachings about human conduct and options for humanity in general.
‘A Portuguese Tribute to Gandhi’, this is the sub-title of this 2021 album by the saxophonist & flutist João Maria Centeno Gorjão Jorge, a.k.a. Rão Kyao, born in Lisbon, and one of the most progressive Portuguese jazz artists. Ten songs where this veteran and talented artist takes us on a captivating acoustic journey through the country liberated by the iconic politician Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948).
I cannot judge how far or close these tunes are to the traditional music from India, but at least Kyao’s bamboo flutes do for sure sound like the typical bansuri. Nevertheless, the other artists in ‘Gandhí’ participate with instruments such as: Portuguese guitar (Bernardo Couto), accordion (Carlos Lopes), harmonium & keyborads (Renato Silva Junior), percussion (Ruca Rebordao), classical guitar & Braguesa viola (Toni Lago Pinto).
Definitely, the song ‘Regresso às Origens’ (Return to the Roots) keeps a clear Portuguese dance rhythm. That is not the case for instance in slow haunting tunes such as: ‘Respeito pela Naturaleza’, ‘Deus é Amor’, ‘Sathya Graha’, or ‘Mahatma’. Leaving aside any further attempts to identify the traditional background of the different melodies & rhythms, what you realize is that the true inspiration for this album is as described in the introductory texts of the CD booklet. For instance, about the beautiful ‘Paz é o Caminho’, the quote in Kyao’s album is the famous Gandhi sentence: “There are no paths to peace, peace is the way”.
About the song ‘Misericórdia’, it refers to Gandhí’s religious philosophy, “which made him closer and more unite to us, Christians, having he himself been an avid reader of the Gospel”. Or ‘Sathya Graha’, “a reference to the core of his fundamental gandhian philosophy in love and not in violence, which translated into surprising results, such as the expulsion of the British Empire from India. Martin Luther King said: ‘Christ is the Message, Gandhi is the Method”. About the tune ‘Independência’ the statement is: “Speaks for itself... When in 1947 Gandhi managed to lead a successful campaign resulting in India’s independence (apotheotic theme)”.
It was back in 1970 that Rão Kyao decided to travel to India and immerse himself in the local music traditions, a period after which he published albums such as ‘Bambú’ (1977) and ‘Goa’ (1979). Later he continued creating records, also returning to the inspiration of his homeland Portugal, working on the daring fusion between bansuri and Portuguese guitars: ‘Fado Bailado’ (1983), ‘Viagens na Minha Terra’ (1989), ‘Viva o Fado’ (1996), ‘Delirios Ibéricos’ (1992, in cooperation with the Spanish band Ketama), or ‘Fado Virado a Nascente’ (2001).
A very fruitful career that, more than fifty years later, looks back in the footsteps of what appears to be Kyao's spiritual and inspiring master, Mahatma Gandhi (Mahatma, which translates to Big Soul). The album even contains the popular song much loved by Gandhi, ‘Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye Je’, a splendid instrumental version that again fusions the bansuri and the Portuguese guitar. A tune whose original lyrics contain beautiful and profound teachings about human conduct and options for humanity in general.
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Rão Kyao (unknown/website).